Trenching and Excavation
SLOPE IT. SHORE IT. SHIELD IT.
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.
Resources on OSHA's construction regulations, hazard recognition, and possible solutions.
Hazards and Solutions
Describes how soil analysis should be conducted to determine appropriate sloping, benching, and shoring for preventing cave-ins and how employees should be trained on all trenching hazards before beginning work.
Publications, videos and other resources to help employers keep workers safe.
- New Trench Safety Stand Down is June 14-18, 2021.
- Trenching Safety – 5 Things You Should Know to Stay Safe. OSHA Flyer (Publication 3974), (2019).
- Keep Trenches Safe for Workers. OSHA Alert (Publication 3971), (2019).
- Protect Workers in Trenches. OSHA Poster (Publication 3215), (2018). Also available in Spanish.
- Trench Safety: Slope It. Shore It. Shield It. OSHA Sticker (Publication 0088), (2018). Also available in Spanish.
- Working Safely in Trenches. OSHA QuickCard™ (Publication 3243), (2018). Also available in Spanish.
- National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. OSHA Directive CPL 02-00-161, (October 1, 2018). Describes policies and procedures for continued implementation of an OSHA National Emphasis Program (NEP) to identify and to reduce hazards which are causing or likely to cause serious injuries and fatalities during trenching and excavation operations.