What is an excavation or a trench?
OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth's surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).
Which OSHA standards address trenching and excavation hazards in construction work?
Employers are required to comply with the trenching and excavation requirements 29 CFR Part 1926, Subpart P.
What are the Competent Person responsibilities?
OSHA's trenching and excavation standard requires that a competent person inspect jobsite trenches daily, as the conditions change such as a rainstorm occurring, and before a worker enters the trench, to ensure elimination of excavation hazards. A competent person is knowledgeable about excavation hazards and has the authority to fix those hazards.
How to do you protect workers in an excavation or trench?
All workers who enter a trench or excavation more than 5 ft. deep must be protected by benching or sloping of the earth, shoring, or shielding (i.e., trench boxes) to the direction of the competent person.
- Benching means a method of protecting workers from cave-ins by excavating the sides of an excavation to form one or a series of horizontal levels or steps, usually with vertical or near vertical surfaces between levels. NOTE: Benching cannot be done in Type C soil, which is the least stable soil type.
- Sloping involves cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation.
- Shoring requires installing aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave-ins.
- Shielding protects workers by using trench boxes or other types of supports to prevent soil cave-ins.
DO NOT enter an unprotected trench that is 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep or greater unless a protective system is in place.