Safety in the trenches

May 1, 2011

OSHA requires that employees working inside trenches be protected against cave-in injuries. Trenches should be:

  • Sloped down to add stability
  • Cut to create stepped bench grades
  • Supported by a system made with posts, beams, shores, or planking and hydraulic jacks
  • Supported by a trench box

For additional protection, all materials – including excavated materials – should be at least 2 feet away from the edge, and a safe means of egress must be provided within 25 feet of workers in a trench. OSHA cautions workers never to enter an unprotected trench.