Construction, Enforcement and Inspection

Tragedy at Unprotected Trench is Averted…At Least This Time

OSHA inspectors paid a visit to a Birmingham, Alabama, plumbing contracting business after an inspector noticed workers in an unprotected trench. The inspection was part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. The compliance officer issued one willful and four serious citations to the employer for allowing employees to work in an excavation up to 10 feet (ft) deep without cave-in protection.

OSHA requires that all trenches and excavation sites five feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses. Protection may be accomplished through shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at an acceptable angle, or by using a protective trench box.

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