Excavation Safety on the Job-Site Excavation Safety Trench collapses can occur without warning, regardless of the depth. The vast majority of trenching fatalities occurs in trenches 5- to 15-feet deep. These depths invite taking chances, and often times it is the good, safe-looking material that turns out to be the unsuspecting killer. But trench cave-ins don't have to happen. Almost every month somewhere in the news you can read about a working being injured or killed when a trench they were working in collapses. Here are some general requirements for excavations: • Before beginning excavation, establish the locations of underground and overhead utilities and services. Contact utility companies and advise prior to the start of excavation. • Employees working in trenches 4 feet deep or more should have an adequate and safe means of exit, such as ladders, steps or ramps available at no more than 25 feet of lateral travel. • Employees exposed to public vehicular traffic must wear garments marked with or made of reflective or high-visibility material. • Do not permit employees to go underneath the loads of lifting or digging equipment. • When hazardous atmospheric conditions exist or you can reasonably expect them to exist, test and control the atmosphere to prevent exposure to harmful levels. • Removable-type steel casings, and individually manned lifelines and harnesses are needed to protect employees in bellbottom pier holes. Follow confined-space entry procedures. • Employees must not work in excavations where there is accumulated water unless they follow necessary safety precautions. • Additional shoring or bracing may be required when adjoining utility lines, foundations, walks and footings are endangered. • Store spoils, equipment and other materials at least 2 feet away, or use effective retaining devices. • Superimposed loads, such as mobile equipment working close to excavation edges, require extra sheet piling, shoring or bracing. The use of mobile equipment near excavations also requires substantial barricades or stop logs. • Have a competent person on-site who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards and has the authority to take prompt corrective action. • A competent person should be able to identify soil classifications and the protective systems to use in accordance with the OSHA Excavation standard, Subpart P. • A competent person must make ongoing daily inspections of excavations, adjacent areas and protective systems, including after every rainfall or other hazard-producing occurrence. • Walkways or bridges are needed for crossing over excavations. Walkways or bridges over excavations greater than 4 feet deep require standard guardrails. • Erect standard guard railing or solid sheeting no less than 42 inches above ground level around all tunnel shafts and bore pits. • Barricade or cover all wells, pits or shafts. • Back fill excavations upon completion. These injuries and fatalities are preventable with planning and proper execution of safety precautions. This information can help you avoid these potentially deadly accidents.