Trenching and Excavation Hazards

Trenching and Excavation hazards exist on most construction projects at one time or another. What this means to construction workers is, that you may or may not be involved in this activity, but still may be exposed to it and all of the hazards it may present to you. Some of the things to remember and be aware of are as follows:

  • A trench or excavation is defined as any disturbed ground that has been created by man.
  • Egress shall be made available while work in the trench or excavation is active. This means you should  always be aware because the egress may not be there if you should fall in.  It may have been removed due to inactivity.  A ladder may have been removed by the people working in the trench or excavation.
  • A trench or excavation  is required to have protection from pedestrian traffic for a few reasons such as being obscured by bushes and tall grass. So if you are exposed to a trench or excavation, use caution when working or passing by them because it may be likely that there is no protection such as a warning line or a guard rail system.
  • When working, or if you have fallen into a trench or excavation, great bodily harm and even death can occur from being buried up to the waist or portions of the legs. This is called crush syndrome. Crush syndrome causes toxins in the blood to be trapped in the covered portions of the body and upon release may cause blood clots and other deadly affects to a person.

A person should never work in a trench or excavation that is not protected by sloping, benching, trench boxes, or shoring when required by the OSHA standards. These requirements shall be determined by a person that has one or both of the following: experience and training in soil classifications and choosing the appropriate protections.

Disclaimer: The information and suggestions contained in these safety talks are believed to be reliable. However, the authors of the topics and the owners of this web site accept no legal responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of such information or suggestions contained within these topics. These guidelines do not supercede local, state, or federal regulations and must not be construed as a substitute for, or legal interpretation of, any OSHA regulations.