All excavations are dangerous because the soil can be unstable. If workers do not use protective systems or equipment when working in trenches or excavations five feet or deeper at a depth of time, they may be crushed by a collapse. OSHA requirements are defined by laws, standards, and regulations. Our interpretative letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional obligations for employers. This letter represents OSHA`s interpretation of the requirements under discussion. Please note that our enforcement guidelines may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. We also update our guidelines from time to time in response to new information. To stay informed of these developments, you can visit the OSHA website at The oxygen content may be depleted in the trenches; Therefore, you should take precautions to deal with such incidents.

Any excavation larger than 4 feet requires atmospheric testing by a licensed professional in accordance with OSHA standards. Construction vehicles such as backhoe loaders and dump trucks also pose a hazard to your workers. Drivers of these vehicles may sometimes have limited visibility when approaching ditches. Therefore, OSHA recommends that you designate a flagger or observer to guide vehicles. Similarly, equipment, air charges or excavated earth can fall into a trench and crush people working underneath. Therefore, OSHA requires that you store any site material at least 2 feet from the excavation or edge of the trench. Tests and controls. In addition to the requirements of Subdivisions D and E of this Part (29 CFR 1926.50 – 1926.107) to avoid exposure to harmful concentrations of air pollutants and to ensure acceptable atmospheric conditions, the following requirements apply: OSHA requires employers to comply with the excavation and excavation requirements of 29 CFR 1926.651 and 29 – CFR 1926.652 or other OSHA-approved government safety standards. January 16, 2003 [Revised May 31, 2018] John M. Maas 2304 Bel-Aire Court Green Bay, WI 53404-5017 Purpose: If an excavator is required to obtain approval from a licensed engineer when operating a trench protection system manufactured in accordance with § 1926.652(c)(2); Subsection P; Excavations; Chartered Professional Engineers; Grabenschilde Dear M. Maas: This is a response to your letter of 13.

August 2002, which was faxed to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding OSHA excavation construction standards. (These standards are codified in subsection P of 29 CFR Part 1926 (§1926.650 et seq.). We apologize for the delay in providing this response. We have paraphrased your question as follows: Question: Does the Excavation Standard (29 CFR Part 1926, Subpart P) require a licensed engineer to design the trench support system if the depth of the excavation is greater than 20 feet? Does this requirement also apply in particular if the employer uses a manufactured trench shield that complies with the manufacturer`s restrictions and instructions? Background to the response Paragraph 1926.652(c) contains requirements for the design of various types of trench and excavation support methods – support systems, shield systems and other protective systems. According to paragraph [(c)], the employer may choose between four options for the design of support systems, shielding systems and other protective systems. The four options are: 1The requirements set out in the annexes, where applicable, are mandatory. Some schedules in other OSHA standards are labeled as “not mandatory,” but Subpart P schedules are not labeled that way. [ Return to text ] Note that option 1 applies to hydraulic wooden and aluminum load-bearing towers, not trench shields.

Options 2 to 4 apply if a trench shield is to be used. The requirements of § 1926.652 (c) (2) to (4) are supplemented by additional requirements in the text, tables and figures in the appendices to subsection P.1. As you mentioned earlier, Schedule F states that a Chartered Professional Engineer (RPE) must design protection systems for excavations at depths greater than 20 feet. The introductory paragraph preceding the flow charts in Appendix F states: “The following figures are a graphical summary of the requirements contained in subsection P for excavations to a depth of 20 feet or less. Protection systems for excavations more than 20 feet deep must be designed by a licensed engineer in accordance with § 1926.652 (b) and (c). The appendices repeatedly state that the details and examples in the appendices are limited to depths of 20 feet and that an EPR is required for excavations greater than 20 feet deep. For example, Note 3 of Table B-1, “Maximum Permitted Slopes,” states that “Slopes or slopes for excavations deeper than 20 feet must be designed by a licensed engineer. Paragraph (a) (scope of Appendix D) also states: “This Schedule contains information that may be used when an aluminum hydraulic bracket is provided as a method of protection against intrusion into trenches not exceeding 20 feet (6.1 m).” This 20-foot limit is based on the agency`s conclusion in establishing the rules for the current version of Subpart P that deeper excavations pose greater danger than shallow excavations. During the development of the rules, the issues of deep searches and the use of RPEs were addressed together. The issues were dealt with in detail in the preamble to §2 (volume 54 of the Federal Register, pages 45898-45902, October 31, 1989) and again in relation to §1926.652(b) and (c) (at 54 FR 45929-45932). OSHA has determined that excavations deeper than 20 feet require a licensed professional engineer to design the protection: During an excavation project, at least one competent person must be on site before a worker enters a trench. The expert inspects the trenches daily and monitors all changes to the trench.

This person must have a thorough knowledge of the excavation and be able to identify potential hazards and take immediate corrective action to eliminate or control that hazard. There are 29 OSHA-approved state plans that implement national occupational health and safety programs. Government plans must include standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA`s and may have different or more stringent requirements. Collapse and incidents of collapse in trenches can endanger the lives of your workers.