Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Trenching and Excavation

Trenching and Excavation Menu Workers' Rights

Additional Resources

  • Excavations in Construction: Soil Classification. OSHA Prevention Video (vTools). Also available in Spanish. This OSHA video shows one of the steps, classifying soil, that employers must follow so that trenching work can be done safely. This video is not intended to be a complete educational tool, instead it is meant as an introduction for people who want to know more. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace and required protective equipment. You'll learn how having the right information about a construction site can help save lives.
  • Excavations in Construction: Trenching. OSHA Prevention Video (vTools). Also available in Spanish. This OSHA video shows how quickly cave-ins lead to workers' deaths. The video will also show what employers must do to assure that the work can be done more safely. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace and required protective equipment. You'll see that using the right type of protection saves lives.
  • 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). Also available in Spanish.
  • Working Safely in Trenches. OSHA QuickCard™ (Publication 3243), (2011). Also available in Spanish.
  • Tool Box Safety Topic: Hazard Communication. OSHA and the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) Alliance, (February 2013). Also available in Spanish. Addresses hazard communication issues such as hazardous materials written programs, material safety data sheets, respirators, and hazardous materials identification systems.
  • Excavation and Trenching Best Practices for Operators. OSHA and the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) Alliance, (February 2008). Also available in Spanish. Addresses issues associated with excavation and trenching activities such as worksite preparation, personal protective equipment and collapse prevention.
  • Excavation and Trenching Best Practices for Supervisory Personnel. OSHA and the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) Alliance, (February 2008). Also available in Spanish. Addresses issues associated with supervision of workers who are engaged in excavation and trenching activities such as worksite preparation, personal protective equipment and collapse prevention.
  • Excavator Operation Best Practices for Supervisory Personnel, Operators, and Workers. OSHA and the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) Alliance, (February 2008). Addresses which issues associated with the operation of excavation equipment such as pre-and post-operation procedures, safe operation considerations, and supervisory recommendations.
  • Horizontal Directional Drilling Best Practices for Operators. OSHA and the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) Alliance, (February 2008). Also available in Spanish. Addresses issues associated with the operation of horizontal directional drilling equipment such as pre-and post-operation procedures and safe operation considerations.
  • Horizontal Directional Drilling Best Practices for Supervisory Personnel. OSHA and the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) Alliance, (February 2008). Also available in Spanish. Addresses issues associated with supervision of workers who are engaged in the operation of horizontal directional drilling equipment such as pre-and post-operation procedures and safe operation considerations.
  • ANSI A10.12-1998 (R2010) Safety Requirements for Excavation –American National Standards Institute
  • Mickle, J.L. "The Mechanics of A Trench Cave-In." Agri-book Magazine/Drainage Contractor 8-9(1991).
  • Stanevich, R.L. and D.C. Middleton. "An Exploratory Analysis of Excavation Cave-in Fatalities." Professional Safety 33.2(February 1988): 24-27.
  • Preventing Deaths and Injuries from Excavation Cave-Ins. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 85-110, (July 1985). Provides several case reports, OSHA standards that apply to these cases, and recommended courses of action.
  • Trenching and Excavation. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topics. This NIOSH webpage provides trench safety solutions as well a list of their trench Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) reports.
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