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Competent Person Trenching






All trenches deeper than five feet are required to have means of protecting the worker in the trench. Various methods exist such as shoring or benching of the trench to prevent a cave-in onto the employee. Training will cover the necessary requirements for this activity. This course will describe in detail OSHA’s Standard - Subpart P - Excavations.

This course includes the definitions to this subpart along with specific excavation requirements, requirements for

protective systems, soil classifications, sloping and benching, timber shoring for trenches, aluminum hydraulic shoring , alternatives, and the selection of protective systems.

A few important facts… Many people don’t appreciate the weight of soil. One cubic foot of soil weighs between 90 and 140 pounds. Just one cubic yard of soil (27 cubic feet), weighs between 2,430 and 3,780 pounds.

The "Competent Person" OSHA requires that a "Competent Person" is present on a job site whenever workers are exposed in an excavation. There are two parts to the definition of a "Competent Person."

OSHA goes on to say: "When applied to trenching or excavation operations, the ‘Competent Person’ must have specific training in, and be knowledgeable about, soils analysis, the use of protective systems, and the requirements of this standard."  

                              The Objective of training To help prepare you to serve as a "Competent Person" on a job site. The responsibilities of a "Competent Person" include: 6. Visual and manual tests of the soil (1926 Appendix A)


"This rule will save lives of construction workers. Unlike most general industry worksites, construction sites are continually evolving, with the number and characteristics of confined spaces changing as work progresses. This rule emphasizes training, continuous worksite evaluation and communication requirements to further protect workers’ safety and health."

Confined spaces – such as manholes, crawl spaces, and tanks – are not designed for continuous occupancy and are difficult to exit in the event of an emergency. People working in confined spaces face life-threatening hazards including toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions, and asphyxiation.

This webpage contains information on the new regulation, compliance assistance documents, and other resources OSHA has to help employers and workers understand the rule. OSHA will continue to publish new guidance products in the coming months, and will post them here. Please check the website often for updates.

Construction workers often perform tasks in confined spaces - work areas that (1) are large enough for an employee to enter, (2) have limited means of entry or exit, and (3) are not designed for continuous occupancy. 

These spaces can present physical and atmospheric hazards that can be prevented if addressed prior to entering the space to perform work. This page is a starting point for finding information about these spaces, the hazards they may present, and ways to safely work in them.

StandardConfined Spaces in Construction (PDF). Final Rule, (May 4, 2015).

Updated Reader friendly version (PDF) of the upcoming 29 CFR 1926, Subpart AA standard.

Compliance Assistance MaterialsNEW Protecting Construction Workers in Confined Spaces: Small Entity Compliance Guide (PDF). OSHA Publication 3825-09, (September 2015).

Asphyxiation in Sewer Line Manhole (PDF). OSHA Fatal Facts No. 12-2015, (July 2015).

Frequently Asked Questions. (April 2015).

Confined Spaces in Construction: Pits (PDF). OSHA Fact Sheet, (April 2015).

Confined Spaces in Construction: Sewer Systems (PDF). OSHA Fact Sheet, (April 2015).

Permit-Required Confined Spaces in General Industry (PDF). OSHA QuickCards™, (OSHA 3214-2011). Also available in Spanish (PDF).

Federal Register Notices

Confined Spaces in Construction. Proposed Rule: 72 FR 67351-67425. (November 28, 2007).

Case Studies

Silent Killer in a Newly Constructed Manhole (PPT). OSHA.

Additional InformationConstruction Confined Space Stakeholder Meetings. OSHA.

Stakeholder Transcripts Washington, DC October 4, 2000 (PDF)Houston, Texas October 11, 2000 (PDF)Wakefield, Massachusetts October 24, 2000 (PDF)

Remarks prepared for delivery by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels Press Teleconference on Confined Spaces. OSHA Press Teleconference, (May 1, 2015).

Confined spaces rule could protect nearly 800 construction workers a year from serious injuries and reduce life-threatening hazards. OSHA News Release, (May 1, 2015).

Report of the Small Business Advocacy Review Panel on the Draft OSHA Standard for Confined Spaces in Construction. OSHA Docket S107A, (November 24, 2003).

Calibrating and Testing Direct-Reading Portable Gas Monitors. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIBs), (September 30, 2013). Provides workers and employers guidance on calibrating and testing direct-reading portable gas monitors (hereafter, "DRPGMs" or "instruments").

Confined Spaces. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.

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