Excavation/Trenching guidelines

Do not take any excavation site for granted. Constantly watch for cave-in hazards, and follow these critical rules.

  • A competent person, who is trained to watch for and mitigate hazards must:
    • Be on site at all times.
    • Inspect the site daily for changing conditions.
    • Inspect the trench before an employee enters.
    • Determine if the trench needs a protection system to prevent it from collapsing.
  • Sites over five feet deep must have a protection system – sloping, shoring or shield.
  • All trench shields must at least extend to the ground surface.
  • A shield must be within two feet of the bottom of the trench.
  • Soils must be properly sloped according to their types.
  • The dirt-spoil pile must be at least two feet from the excavation's edge and be sloped according to the soil classification.
  • Ladders or ramps are required when trenches are four feet deep or more.
  • Ladders and ramps must be tied off.
  • Twenty-five feet is the maximum distance a person can be from a ladder or ramp while in the trench.
  • Prevent unauthorized entry into excavations by using fencing and barricades.