#126 Competent Persons Trade Contractor Requirements

Cal/OSHA Construction Safety Orders define “Competent Person” as: “One who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” (§1504)

The term “Competent Person” is used in many Cal/OSHA standards. In a broad sense a Competent Person is an individual who, through training and/or experience, is:

  • Knowledgeable of applicable standards,
  • Capable of identifying site specific workplace hazards,
  • Designated by the employer, and
  • Has authority to take appropriate corrective actions With respect to trench and excavation exposures, Cal/OSHA requires that site evaluations and safety provisions be carried out by a Competent Person.

Under Cal/OSHA Policies and Procedures, a Competent Person may be interviewed by a Cal/OSHA inspector to determine whether that person has knowledge of:

  • The Title 8 requirements for excavations, trenches and earthwork,
  • Use of protective systems,
  • Soil analysis as required in Title 8 provisions pertaining to trenches, excavations, and earthwork, and
  • Ability to recognize and test for hazardous atmospheres

Knowledge and ability will be demonstrated through training or experience, and by performance, as follows:

  • Training shall be determined by furnishing a copy of a certificate, a letter or other written evidence, indicating completion of competent person training conducted by the employer, an employer association, or third party trainer, or
  • Experience shall be determined by asking the designated competent person to satisfactorily demonstrate that they have acquired the requisite knowledge and ability through previous experience, and
  • Performance shall be determined by an evaluation of whether the competent person has been given the required authority and has fulfilled the responsibilities of the competent person.

The designated Competent Person must be on site to identify hazards. If the Competent Person finds evidence of a hazard, workers must be removed from the dangerous area. No employee is to be permitted to enter a trench or excavation unless the Competent Person is on site.

Any employee left in charge of a jobsite must be educated and be able to respond appropriately in the event of any identified hazardous condition or practice.