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Excavation and Trenching

Excavation and Trenching

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is an excavation?

Any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in an earth surface, formed by earth removal.

What is a trench?

A narrow excavation (in relation to its length) made below the surface of the ground. In general, the depth is greater than the width, but the width of a trench (measured at the bottom) is no greater than 15 feet (4.6 m).

What are the hazards associated with excavations?

Excavation work presents serious hazards to all workers involved. Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres and incidents involving mobile equipment adjacent to excavations.

 

Solutions

Solutions

What can I do to protect myself?

Employers are required to designate a competent person who has the knowledge and training to properly classify soil types, including how to determine if soil has been previously disturbed, and to specify the appropriate type of sloping or reinforcement necessary to prevent a cave-in while workers are working within an excavation, especially a trench. Identify the nearest means of egress from a trench. The employer must ensure that means of egress are available within 25 feet for workers in a trench.

What resources are available to assist employers?

The trenching and excavation presentation can be downloaded and modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards. In addition, the A-Z topics page on confined spaces can provide additional resource information and the Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.  

Further, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. Lastly, the consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.

 

Regulations

Regulations

Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards for (topic) in North Carolina:

Construction Industry

 

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-707-7876.