OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

November 14, 2003 [Reviewed May 31, 2018]

Mr. Thomas A. Bush, CSP
Manager - EH&S Consultant
OSEA 3748 South Park Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14219-1802

Re 29 CFR 1926.652(g)(1)(ii)

Dear Mr. Bush:

This is in response to your letter dated April 10, 2003, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concerning trench shields (29 CFR 1926.652) being held flush with the top of the trench and road surface. We apologize for the delay in providing this response.

We have paraphrased your question as follows:

Question: Scenario - Our construction project calls for a trench to be excavated through a concrete or blacktop road surface. Excavation needs to be done in such a way that steel plates can cover the trench and support smooth traffic flow while unoccupied. In this situation, is it permissible under OSHA's excavation standards to install the trench shields flush with the top of the concrete or blacktop road surface?

Answer
There is no specific prohibition against installing a trench shield so that the top of the shield is flush with the top of the road surface in the situation you describe.
1 Therefore, it is permissible.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our letters of interpretation do not create new or additional requirements but rather explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. From time to time, letters are affected when the Agency updates a standard, a legal decision impact a standard, or changes in technology affect the interpretation. To assure that you are using the correct information and guidance, please consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020.*

Sincerely,

Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction

 


1 Keep in mind that §1926.652(g)(1)(ii) states: Shields shall be installed in a manner to restrict lateral or other hazardous movement of the shield in the event of the application of sudden lateral loads. [Back to text]

*[This letter has been modified (non-substantive changes) on May 31, 2018, and reflects current OSHA regulations and policies.]