Design of Cave-in Protective Systems
29 CFR 1926.652(b) and (c)

Federal Register Federal Register [07/10/1998] #63:37415-37416
Information Collection Requirements;
Design of Cave-in Protection Systems

A. Justification

1. Explain the circumstances that make the collection of information necessary. Identify any legal or administrative requirements that require the collection. Attach a copy of the appropriate section of each statute and regulation mandating or authorizing the collection of information.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 authorizes the promulgation of health and safety standards necessary or appropriate to provide safe or healthful employment and places of employment. The statute specifically authorizes information collection by employers as necessary or appropriate for the enforcement of the Act or for developing information regarding the causes and prevention of occupational injuries, illnesses, and accidents.

In OSHA's construction standard for excavations, employers are required to protect employees from cave-in hazards by using one of several protective systems. The information required to be collected by this standard is used by employers or engineers to design proper cave-in systems that will support the walls of the excavation or trench.

The employer may choose to slope the sides of the trench or bench (step) the soil back. They could also choose to use a support system or shield, such as a trench box. The standard provides allowable configurations and slopes, and provides appendixes to assist the employer with designing either the sloping/benching systems or the support/shield systems. If an employer elects to use a protective system designed by a registered professional engineer, or bases his/her system on tabulated data provided by sources other than the appendix, the employer must obtain certain information and keep it at the job site for review at the time of an inspection. The information obtained by the employer will contain the identity of the registered professional engineer who approved the design, will normally specify why a particular system was chosen, list the limits of the system chosen, and include explanatory information to aid the user of the data in the appropriate selection. The documentation provides both the employer and the compliance officer with the information necessary to determine if the appropriate system has been selected and designed properly.

2. Show how, by whom, and for what purpose the information is to be used. Except for a new collection, show the actual use the agency has made of the information received from the current collection.

The major purpose of this collection is to ensure that critical safety information is available to the employer when it installs and uses cave-in protection systems. Most manufactured systems cannot be installed safely if done solely from memory, and this data also needs to be available to the competent person in the event site conditions change. OSHA compliance staff cannot be familiar with every type of system on the market. This data provides a means to verify compliance with the system's design.

3. Describe whether, and to what extent, the collection of information involves the use of automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technical collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses, and the basis for the decision of adopting that means of collection. Also, describe any consideration of using information technology to reduce the burden.

This information can be maintained electronically at the site.

4. Describe efforts to identify duplication. Show specifically why any similar information already available cannot be used or modified for use for the purposes described in Item 2 above.

OSHA is unaware of any other requirements for the collection of this information.

5. If the collection of information impacts small businesses or other small entities (Item 5 of OMB Form 83-I), describe the methods used to reduce the burden.

A large portion of residential housing units are built by small contractors.

The Agency has a directive that exempts excavations associated with residential construction sites from this standard if certain criteria is met.

6. Describe the consequence to Federal program or policy activities if the collection is or is not conducted less frequently, and any technical or legal obstacles to reducing the burden.

Failure to collect this information would make it difficult for the employer or engineer to design a proper cave-in protection system if these requirements did not exist; hence, workers are at risk of death.

7. Explain any special circumstances that would cause an information collection to be conducted in a manner:

  • requiring respondents to report information to the agency more often than quarterly;

  • requiring respondents to prepare a written response to a collection of information in fewer than 30 days after receipt of it;

  • requiring respondents to submit more than an original and two copies of any document;

  • requiring respondents to retain records, other than health, medical, government contract, grant-in-aid, or tax records for more than three years;

  • in connection with a statistical survey that is not designed to produce valid and reliable results that can be generalized to the universe of study;

  • requiring the use of statistical data classification that has not been reviewed and approved by OMB;

  • that includes a pledge of confidentially that is not supported by authority established in statute or regulation that is not supported by disclosure and data security policies that are consistent with the pledge, or which unnecessarily impedes sharing of data with other agencies for compatible confidential use; or

  • requiring respondents to submit proprietary trade secret, or other confidential information unless the agency can prove that it has instituted procedures to protect the information's confidentially to the extent permitted by law.

The requirements are within the guidelines set forth in 5 CFR 1320.8.

8. If applicable, provide a copy and identify the date and page number of publication in the Federal Register of the agency's notice, required by 5 CFR 1320.8(d), soliciting comments on the information collection before submission to OMB. Summarize public comments received in response to that notice and describe actions taken by the agency in response to those comments. Specifically address comments received on cost and hour burdens.

Describe efforts to consult with persons outside the agency to obtain their views on the availability of data, frequency of collection, the clarity of instructions and recordkeeping, disclosure, or reporting format (if any), and on the data elements to be recorded, revealed, or reported.

Consultation with representatives of those from whom information is to be obtained or those who must compile records should occur at least once every three years -- even if the collection of information activity is the same as in prior periods. There may be circumstances that mitigate against consultation in a specific situation. These circumstances should be explained.

To date, no major problems have been identified with the paperwork requirements associated with gathering information to comply with 1926.652(b) and 1926.652(c). As required in the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA-95), the Agency will issue a Federal Register notice soliciting comments from the public and other interested parties on OSHA's burden hour estimates. The Agency will then review and address comments received in response to this notice before obtaining OMB approval of the paperwork requirements.

9. Explain any decision to provide any payments or gift to respondents, other than remuneration of contractors or grantees.

No payments or gifts are provided to the respondents.

10. Describe any assurance of confidentiality provided to respondents and the basis for the assurance in statute, regulation, or agency policy.

No elements of confidentiality are involved.

11. Provide additional justification for any questions of a sensitive nature, such as sexual behavior and attitudes, religious beliefs, and other matters that are commonly considered private. This justification should include the reasons why the agency considers the questions necessary, the specific uses to be made of the information, the explanation to be given to persons from whom the information is requested, and any steps to be taken to obtain their consent.

No such information is required to be reported.

12. Provide estimates of the hour burden of the collection of information. The statement should:
  • Indicate the number of respondents, frequency of response, annual hour burden, and an explanation of how the burden was estimated. Unless directed to do so, agencies should not conduct special surveys to obtain information on which to base hour burden estimates. Consultation with a sample (fewer than 10) of potential respondents is desirable. If the hour burden on respondents is expected to vary widely because of differences in activity, size, or complexity, show the range of estimated hour burdens, and explain the reasons for the variance. Generally, estimates should not include burden hours for customary and usual business practices.

  • If this request for approval covers more than one form, provide separate hour burden estimates for each form and aggregate the hour burden in Item 13 of OMB Form 83-I.

  • Provide estimates of annualized cost to respondents for the hour burdens for collections of information, identifying and using appropriate wage rate categories. The cost of contracting out or paying outside parties for information collection activities should not be included here. Instead, this cost should be included in Item 14.

There are approximately 1.4 million construction starts each year. About 1.2 million of these starts are residential units. Typically, a contractor would slope the excavation for foundations at residential sites, and many homes are built "on grade' and would not involve a trench (excavation). In addition, OSHA has issued specific guidance to its compliance staff to permit more flexibiity in sloping the excavations/basements at residential sites. OSHA estimates there are no residential sites where an employer would elect to use one of the design techniques involving a collection of information, and only a small percentage of commercial sites would select this method, depending on the size of the project, the configuration of the building, location, and climate. OSHA estimates that no more than 5 percent of the 200,000 commercial (non-residential) starts, or 10,000, involve the use of a protective system for which a collection of information (tabulated data, design criteria, etc.) would be necessary. OSHA notes that trench boxes are the preferred method of protection on commercial sites.

OSHA estimates that it would require about 2 hours to obtain the information necessary for an employer to design a protective system based on tabulated data or for a registered professional engineer to design a protective system (10,000 X 2 hours = 20,000 hours). In addition, if an employer were to be inspected, it would take about 5 minutes to retrieve the documentation for review by a compliance officer. OSHA typically conducts approximately 1,000 trenching and excavation inspections per year. It is estimates that 1,000 employers may be asked to produce the documentation (1,000 X .08 = 80 hours). The total burden for the collection of information requirements associated with the use of certain protective (cave-in) system is 20,080 hours.

Cost:   Using an hourly wage rate of $21.54(1) (which includes benefits), the cost to comply with this standard is an follows:
    20,080 burden hours x $21.54 per hour = $432,523 total cost
13. Provide an estimate of the total annual cost burden to respondents or recordkeepers resulting from the collection of information. (Do not include the cost of any hour burden shown in Items 12 and 14.)
  • The cost estimate should be split into two components: (a) a total capital and start-up cost component (annualized over its expected useful life); and (b) a total operation and maintenance and purchase of services component. The estimates should take into account costs associated with generating, maintaining, and disclosing or providing the information. Include descriptions of methods used to estimate major cost factors including system and technology acquisition, expected useful life of capital equipment, the discount rate(s), and the time period over which costs will be incurred. Capital and start-up costs include, among other items, preparations for collecting information such as purchasing computers and software; monitoring, sampling, drilling and testing equipment; and record storage facilities.

  • If cost estimates are expected to vary widely, agencies should present ranges of cost burdens and explain the reasons for the variance. The cost of purchasing or contracting out information collection services should be a part of this cost burden estimate. In developing cost burden estimates, agencies may consult with a sample of respondents (fewer than 10), use the 60-day pre-OMB submission public comment process and use existing economic or regulatory impact analysis associated with the rulemaking containing the information collection, as appropriate.

  • Generally, estimates should not include purchases of equipment or services, or portions thereof, made: (1) prior to October 1, 1995, (2) to achieve regulatory compliance with requirements not associated with the information collection, (3) for reasons other than to provide information or keep records for the government, or (4) as part of customary and usual business or private practices.


An hourly wage rate of $30.13 (which includes benefits) was used to calculate the contracting costs associated with obtaining the services of a registered professional engineer to design a system. As stated before, OSHA believes using the trench box is a preferred method of protection; therefore, only half of the total number of excavations would have a cost associated with using a registered professional engineer.

Number of excavations in which these systems will be used:   5,000
Cost of engineering per excavation: $30.13 per hour for engineering services; 2 hours per excavation;

Costs = $30.13 x 2 hours x 5,000 = $301,300

All other costs are listed in #12.

14. Provide estimates of the annualized cost to the Federal Government. Also, provide a description of the method used to estimate cost, which should include quantification of hours, operational expenses (such as equipment, overhead, printing, and support staff), and any other expense that would not have been incurred without this collection of information. Agencies also may aggregate cost estimates from Items 12, 13, and 14 into a single table.

The cost to the Federal Government is the OSHA compliance officer's hourly wage rate ($25.56 average for GS-12 employee compliance officer) multiplied by the time it takes to ask for collection of information (5 minutes or 0.08 hour) or $2.04 per document per visit. Other operational expenses, such as equipment, overhead, and support staff expenses, would have occurred without these collection of information requirements and are considered normal OSHA operating expenses.

15. Explain the reasons for any program changes or adjustments reported in Items 13 or 14 of the OMB Form 83-I.

There is an adjustment of -49,501 from the previous inventory. The Agency previously reported a total of 69,581 hours. The current submission reports a total of 20,400 burden hours. This adjustment is due to more accurate data and a more accurate analysis. In addition, the previous calculations were incorrectly counted as burden hours instead of as a contracting cost.

16. For collections of information whose results will be published, outline plans for tabulations, and publication. Address any complex analytical techniques that will be used. Provide the time schedule for the entire project, including beginning and ending dates of the collection of information, completion of report, publication dates, and other actions.

This question in not applicable as this information will not be published for statistical use.

17. If seeking approval to not display the expiration date for OMB approval of the information collection, explain the reasons that display would be inappropriate.

OSHA is not seeking approval to not display the expiration date of OMB's approval of this collection of information.

18. Explain each exception to the certification statement identified in Item 19, "Certification for Paperwork Reduction Act Submissions," of OMB Form 83-I.

OSHA is not seeking any exceptions to the certification statement in Item 19.


The agency should be prepared to justify its decision not to use statistical methods in any case where such methods might reduce burden or improve accuracy of results. When Item 17 on the Form OMB 83-I is checked "Yes", the following documentation should be included in the Supporting Statement to the extent that it applies to the methods proposed:

1. Describe (including a numerical estimate) the potential respondent universe and any sampling or other respondent selection methods to be used. Data on the number of entities (e.g., establishments, State and local government units, households, or persons) in the universe covered by the collection and in the corresponding sample are to be provided in tabular form for the universe as a whole and for each of the strata in the proposed sample. Indicate expected response rates for the collection as a whole. If the collection had been conducted previously, include the actual response rate achieved during the last collection.

2. Describe the procedures for the collection of information including:
  • Statistical methodology for stratification and sample selection,

  • Estimation procedure,

  • Degree of accuracy needed for the purpose described in the justification,

  • Unusual problems requiring specialized sampling procedures, and

  • Any use of periodic (less frequently than annual) data collection cycles to reduce burden.

3. Describe methods to maximize response rates and to deal with issues of non-response. The accuracy and reliability of information collected must be shown to be adequate for intended uses. For collections based on sampling, a special justification must be provided for any collection that will not yield "reliable" data that can be generalized to the universe studied.

4. Describe any tests of procedures or methods to be undertaken. Testing is encouraged as an effective means of refining collections of information to minimize burden and improve utility. Tests must be approved if they call for answers to identical questions from 10 or more respondents. A proposed test or set of tests may be submitted for approval separately or in combination with the main collection of information.

5. Provide the name and telephone number of individuals consulted on statistical aspects of the design and the name of the agency unit, contractor(s), grantee(s), or other person(s) who will actually collect and/or analyze the information for the agency.

This is not applicable since there is no requirement for the collection of information employing statistical methods.

Footnote (1) This figure was arrived at by taking an hourly wage rate of $15.43 for an average construction worker (from Employment and Earnings, January 1997, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)) and accounting for benefits as well as wages by multiplying the figure by 1.396 (BLS, Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, March 1996).) (Back to Text)