Hazards exist in every workplace in many different forms: sharp edges, falling objects, flying sparks, chemicals, noise and a myriad of other potentially dangerous situations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers protect their employees from workplace hazards that can cause injury. Controlling a hazard at its source is the best way to protect employees. Depending on the hazard or workplace conditions, OSHA recommends the use of engineering or work practice controls to manage or eliminate hazards to the greatest extent possible. For example, building a barrier between the hazard and the employees is an engineering control; changing the way in which employees perform their work is a work practice control. When engineering, work practice and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to their employees and ensure its use. Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as “PPE”, is equipment worn to minimize exposure to a variety of hazards. Examples of PPE include such items as gloves, foot and eye protection, protective hearing devices (earplugs, muffs) hard hats, respirators and full body suits.

Trenching & Excavation

for the

Competent Person

Did you know that the fatality rate for excavation work is 112% higher than the rate for general construction? With the proper safety training in place, this number would be drastically reduced. That is why OSHA requires a competent person be present at every job site. OSHA defines a competent person as someone that"by way of training or experience, is knowledgeable of applicable standards, is capable of identifying workplace hazards relating to the specific operation, and has the authority to correct them."

Many trainings provide basic or introductory information for operators or workers. Since the competent person is required to make important decisions, the training must go beyond the introductory level, to a level which provides enough information to be useful in the decision making process.

Our Trenching & Excavation for the Competent Person goes beyond the basic awareness level of introductory courses or training and into the details necessary to create a safe environment for operators and workers, as outlined in OSHA's standard 29 CFR 1926.650. It helps the competent person answer important job site questions such as:

Are there adequate means of access and egress? Are means of egress from the cut cavity or depression no more than 25 FT from the work? Are adjacent structures stabilized? Does the procedure require benching or multiple levels of protection...




These, and many more are the kinds of questions a competent person on an excavation or trenching site needs to be asking. While there is no substitute for hands-on real-world experience, this Trenching & Excavation knowledge for the Competent Person will go along way in providing a good foundation of knowledge from which an operator or workers can create a safer excavation or trenching work environment.

Competent Person

Check List

  • Scope, Application and Definitions

  • Specific Requirements

  • Protective Systems

  • Soil Classification

  • Sloping and Benching

  • Aluminum Hydraulic and Timber Shoring

  • Shoring Alternatives

  • Protective Systems Selection



Following  standards designated for a specific job, also assists for any future quality or safety concerns regarding potential hazards associated with future excavations or trenches.

Looking at safety in a past experience, a current process and a future progressive outlook is a Premier Underground standard.

Safety First