Roco Rescue

Trench/Excavation Competent Person

WE DO RESCUE

COMPETENT PERSON: TRENCH/EXCAVATION

PREREQUISITE: NONE

8 HRS

If you are supervising an excavation/trench job or are signing off on a permit for excavation work…YOU NEED THIS CLASS!

This 8-hour Roco course is intended for Owners, Supervisors, Managers, Operators, and Safety personnel who are required to oversee Excavation and Trench work.

OSHA has recently updated its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on preventing trenching and excavation collapses in response to a recent spike in trenching fatalities. According to a study by OSHA1, the primary reason trenches collapse is that they are not properly protected. Protective systems were properly employed in only 24% of the trench collapse fatalities. In the remainder, a protective system was either improperly used (24%), available but not in use (12%) or simply unavailable (64%).

Despite the fact that environmental conditions were a contributing factor in 68% of the fatalities, the Competent Person2 was not onsite when the fatality occurred 86% of the time. Most of the time (65%) the employer had not identified the soil type (Competent Person’s responsibility) even though soil type is a factor in trench cave-ins.

Because of the extreme hazards involved, OSHA 29 CFR 1926.650 Subpart P (Excavations) requires at least one person be trained as a Competent Person for excavation sites, which includes trenching activities. Trenching and excavation compliance and safety is dependent on these specialized employees, and OSHA has recognized that a higher level of training and experience is required than a normal worker would possess. OSHA relies on the Competent Person for certain activities or safety procedures at a construction site such as design, daily inspections, and supervision.

Under the Excavation standards, tasks performed by the Competent Person include:

  • Monitoring water removal equipment and operations. [29 CFR 1926.651(h)(2)]
  • Inspecting excavations subject to runoff from heavy rains to determine need for suitable protection. [29 CFR 1926.651(h)(3)]
  • Determining cave-in potential and need for protective systems. [29 CFR 1926.652(a)(1)]
  • Examining damaged material or equipment used for protective systems [29 CFR 1926.652(d)(3)]
  • Classifying soil, by both visual analysis and by testing, to determine appropriate protection; re-classifying, if necessary. [29 CFR 1926 Subpart P Appendix A]
  • Determining the appropriate slope of an excavation to prevent collapse due to surcharge loads, operating equipment, adjacent structures, or traffic, and assuring that such slope is achieved. [29 CFR 1926 Subpart P Appendix B (c)(3)(iii)]
  • Designing structural ramps that are used solely by employees as a means of access or egress. [29 CFR 1926.651(c)(1)(i)]
  • Authorizing immediate removal of employees from the hazardous area where evidence of possible cave-in, failure of protective systems, hazardous atmospheres, or other hazardous conditions exists. [29 CFR 1926.651(k)(2)]

  • COURSE TOPICS
  • Scope, Application, and Definitions of OSHA 1926.650, 1926.651 & 1926.652
  • Specific Requirements of an Excavation Competent Person
  • Identifying Existing and Potential Hazards
  • Soil Classification
  • Protective Systems – Requirements, Options, Installation and Inspection


  • Sloping and Benching – Requirements
  • Aluminum Hydraulic and Timber Shoring
  • Shoring Alternatives (Trench Boxes)
  • Using Tabulated Data: OSHA, Manufacturer’s and Engineer’s Tabulated Data
  • Protective Systems Selection
  • Rescue Considerations









  • Trench Rescue Training
    ← ALL COURSES

    1 Results of OSHA’s 2003 investigation are still useful in understanding why trench fatalities occur and how they can be avoided.
    2 Competent person is defined by OSHA “as an individual, designated by the employer, who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to workers, and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”