Cave-ins are a major cause of deaths in the construction industry each year. Excavations must be properly shored or cut back to an acceptable angle of repose; otherwise, there will be a constant threat of a cave-in and the associated chance of injury or loss of life. A qualified person must be involved in planning and having a safe excavation project.

Guide for Discussion
Before Excavation Review

  • Underground utilities located? (Checked with local utility companies or property owner.) Call Dig-Safeexcavations
  • Any overhead hazards (i.e., falling rock, soil, or other materials or equipment)?
  • Will there be any heavy equipment operating in the near proximity of the excavation?
  • Estimated depth required for the excavation?
  • How many people will work inside the excavation?
  • Is there an escape plan for those inside the excavation to cover a possible cave-in or slide?
  • Has there been a soil analysis? This will help determine the type of shoring to provide or the angle of repose needed.

Steps to Take to Provide a Safe Excavating Operation

  • Always shore or cut back the opening adequately.
  • Any opening with a depth of five feet or more requires shoring or be cut back.
  • Never store excavated or other materials closer than two feet from the edge of the excavation (spoil pile).
  • Inspect the excavation daily. This must be done by a competent person.
  • Access ladders must be provided every twenty-five feet in excavations of four (4) feet or more in depth.
  • Never work outside of the shoring or trench box
  • Review escape procedures with all personnel who may have cause to be in the excavation.

Additional Discussion Notes:
Possible gas accumulation in the excavation?
Barriers, guardrails or other safety warnings in excavation area?