Trenching and Excavation
Excavating is recognized as one of the most hazardous construction operations. OSHA revised Subpart P, Excavations, of 29 CFR 1926.650, 29 CFR 1926.651, and 29 CFR 1926.652 to make the standard easier to understand, permit the use of performance criteria where possible, and provide construction employers with options when classifying soil and selecting employee protection methods.
Trenching and excavation hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry and marine terminals.
How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential On-Site Consultation program to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. Consultants in this program from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-Site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
- NUCA's Trench Safety Stand Down June 18-23, 2018.
- Trenching and Excavation Public Service Announcement (Transcipt). (June 2018). A Spanish version (Transcript) is also available.
- Protect Workers in Trenches. OSHA Poster (Publication 3215), (2018). A Spanish version is also available.
- Excavations in Construction: Trenching. OSHA Prevention Video (vTools). A Spanish version is also available.
- Excavations in Construction: Soil Classification. OSHA Prevention Video (vTools). A Spanish version is also available.
- Trenching and Excavation Safety. OSHA Publication 2226, (2015). Highlights key elements of the standards and describes safe work practices that can protect workers from cave-ins and other hazards.
- Trenching and Excavation Safety. OSHA Fact Sheet (Publication 3476), (2011). A Spanish version is also available.
- Working Safely in Trenches. OSHA QuickCard™ (Publication 3243), (2011). A Spanish version is also available.