Trench Safety

Trenching and excavation work presents serious hazards to all workers involved. Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are more likely than some other excavation-related incidents to result in worker fatalities. Did you know that one cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car? According to OSHA, employers must ensure that workers enter trenches only after adequate protections are in place to address cave-in hazards. In addition, other potential hazards associated with trenching work include falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and hazards from mobile equipment.

How can employers prevent cave-ins? OSHA generally requires that employers protect workers from cave-ins by:

  • Sloping and benching the sides of the excavation.
  • Supporting the sides of the excavation.
  • Placing a shield between the side of the excavation and the work area.

For detailed information on workers’ rights, trench safety, and incident prevention visit: