Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Trenching and Excavation

Trenching and Excavation Menu Workers' Rights

Overview

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OSHA has made reducing trenching and excavation hazards the Agency's Priority Goal. Trench collapses, or cave-ins, pose the greatest risk to workers' lives. To prevent cave-ins:

  • SLOPE or bench trench walls
  • SHORE trench walls with supports, or
  • SHIELD trench walls with trench boxes

Employers should also ensure there is a safe way to enter and exit the trench. Keep materials away from the edge of the trench. Look for standing water or atmospheric hazards. Never enter a trench unless it has been properly inspected.

29 CFR 1926.650, 29 CFR 1926.651, and 29 CFR 1926.652 are applicable OSHA standards.

5 Things You Should Know to Stay Safe in a Trench

Construction

Resources on OSHA's construction regulations, hazard recognition, and possible solutions.

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Additional Resources

Publications, videos and other resources to help employers keep workers safe.

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Highlights

Protect Workers in Trenches
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