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Trenching and excavation

Many risks involved with working in and around trenches. The following measures should be taken to control the risk of cave-ins and other potential hazards associated with trenching operations, including:

• According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), trenches 5 ft. (1.5 meters) deep or greater
require a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock. If less than 5 feet deep, a
competent person may determine that a protective system is not required
• Trenches 20 ft. (6.1 meters) deep or greater require that the protective system be designed by a
registered professional engineer or be based on tabulated data prepared and/or approved by a registered
professional engineer in accordance with 1926.652(b) and (c)
• Trenches should be inspected daily and as conditions change by a competent person before worker entry to
ensure elimination of excavation hazards
• All excavations should have safe access and egress, including ladders, steps, ramps, or other safe means of exit for
employees working in trench excavations 4 feet or deeper
• Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges
• Identify other sources that might affect trench stability
• Keep excavated soil (spoils) and other materials at least 2 feet from trench edges
• Call OKIE811 to locate lines before digging
• Test for atmospheric hazards such as low oxygen, hazardous fumes and toxic gases when > 4 feet deep
• Inspect trenches before beginning a new job and at the start of each shift and after any other occurrence that
could have changed the trench conditions
• Inspect trenches after rain
• Do not work under suspended loads
• Wear high visibility or other suitable clothing when exposed to vehicular traffic


This article is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for information purposes only. The information in this article shall not be construed or interpreted as providing legal or any other advice. The information material does not amend the provisions of any insurance policy issued by CompSource Mutual. It is not a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy provisions, and any applicable law.

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