Excavation and Trenches

An excavation is any man-made cut, cavity, trench or depression in an earth surface that is formed by earth removal. Because of the dangers associated with excavations it is important to plan for:

  1. Protecting employees
  2. The use of support systems, sloping and benching systems, and other systems of protection against cave-ins
  3. A means of access to and egress from excavations
  4. Personnel exposure to vehicular traffic, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, water accumulation, and unstable structures in and adjacent to excavations.

Conduct no excavation or trench work until the existence and location of underground pipes, electrical conductors, etc., have been determined. Inspect excavations daily. If there is evidence of possible cave-ins or slides, stop all work in the excavation until necessary safeguards are taken.

Install guards/barricades at a safe distance on all sides of excavations to prevent people working above or passers-by from falling in. Place warning lights near excavations at night.

Where pedestrians are to cross an open excavation, the installed walkway must be sturdy and free of trip hazards, slippery surfaces, splinters, nails, or protrusions which may cause injury. Construct bridges for vehicular traffic to withstand twice the load of the heaviest vehicles anticipated.

Maintain work areas in a manner to minimize the visible emission of dust due to vehicular traffic, wind, and other causes.  Use binders or water in sufficient quantities and at regular intervals to control fugitive dust emissions and promptly clean any earth, dirt or other materials which migrate from the work site to neighboring walkways and roadways.

Backfill excavations as soon as practical after work is completed and all associated equipment is removed.


29 CFR 1926, Subpart P;

Title 20 DCMR, Chapter 20-6 (Air Quality Particulates), 20-605 Control of Fugitive Dust