Unsafe Trenches

Trenching and excavation companies should make every effort to prevent cave-ins. Trench collapses kill construction workers on a frequent basis. All workers on the trenching / excavation jobsite should be familiar with trenching safety practices. Even though trench safety has been taught for thirty years, they still kill construction workers today.

Excavation Trigger Numbers

  • 4 feet — need to be given adequate access or egress.  (ladder or steps into the trench)
  • 4 feet — atmospheric testing where there is likely to be a hazard.
  • 5 feet — sloping or shoring required.
  • 25 feet of lateral travel requires additional access or egress installed. (ladder every 50 feet)
  • 18 inches — minimum clearance above the ground for trench box.
  • 6 feet — fall protection is required. (guardrails to prevent falls into the trench)
  • Less than 5 feet shoring is not required after daily inspection from competent person and no indication of potential cave‐in. (rare instance)

More Trench Safety Info: 

  • Make sure materials or equipment that may fall or roll into the trench are moved at least 2 feet back.
  • Provide warning systems when trenches are near traffic areas.
  • Never allow workers to stand or work beneath loads or digging equipment.
  • Never lift or lower workers with digging equipment
  • Provide safe access to all trenches 4 feet or deeper.
  • Ladders must be within 25 feet of all workers.

Trench Rescues

  • Extensive
  • Multiple personnel
  • Involvement by many government agencies
  • Trench rescues require many hours of labor
  • Survival is not likely

UNSAFE TRENCH! NO SHORING & WATER INFILTRATION

Unsafe Trench

ANY TRENCH 5 FEET IN DEPTH REQUIRES PROTECTIVE SHORING, SHIELDING, BENCHING OR SLOPING.

Unsafe Trench