In the safety information provided on the pocket card, OSHA warns workers not to enter an unprotected excavation or trench, and it advises that all excavations or trenches that are five feet deep or greater require a protective system.
The card states that the walls of the excavation or trench must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Sloped for stability
- Cut to create stepped or benched grades
- Supported by a system made with posts, beams, shores or planking and hydraulic jacks
- Supported by a trench box to protect workers in an excavation or trench
- Excavated materials must be at least two feet away from the excavation or trench.
- An exit ladder must be within 25 feet of workers.
It should be noted that several states operate their own state OSHA programs and they may have adopted requirements for excavations and trenching that are different from the information presented above. If you live in a state with its own state plan, you should contact your local administrator for further information on the regulations applicable in your state.
For more information, e-mail Rob Matuga at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8507.
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