SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR EXCAVATIONS (Based on 1926, Subpart P)

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1 SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR EXCAVATIONS (Based on 1926, Subpart P) All contractors that perform excavation work must have a competent person who is responsible for ensuring safety associated with all excavation activities. A competent person is an individual who is capable of identifying existing or predictable hazards in the surroundings, or working conditions which are dangerous to employees and who has authorization to take prompt corrective actions to eliminate the hazards. An excavation is any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth s surface, formed by removal of materials. A trench is an excavation that is generally deeper than it is wide. However, any excavation with a bottom width greater than 15 feet is not a trench, regardless of its depth. Trenches are created in excavations with original widths greater than 15 feet when forms or other structures are installed so that the width from the structure to the side of the excavation is less than 15 feet. General Requirements All excavations, regardless of depth, must be evaluated for hazards by a competent person on a daily basis and, when adjacent activities or weather may change conditions during the day, on a more frequent basis. All items that may fall or roll into an excavation must be removed or guarded to prevent hazards. All underground utilities must be located and identified before any excavation work is begun. If underground utilities cannot be located accurately appropriate caution must be exercised when the excavation work approaches the general area. Additional attempts to locate the utilities must be made with appropriate detection equipment when the general location is approached. While the excavation is open, exposed utilities must be protected, supported or removed as necessary to safeguard employees. Structural ramps used for employee access and egress must be designed by a competent person. Structural ramps used for equipment access and egress must be designed by a competent person qualified in structural design and must be constructed according to this design. Ramps and runways constructed of two or more structural members must be connected together to prevent displacement. Structural members used for ramps and runways must be of uniform thickness. The walking surface of ramps and runways must be free of projections that can cause tripping. Ramps used in place of steps or ladders must be provided with surface treatments on top to prevent slipping. A stairway, ladder, ramp or other safe means of egress must be located in trench excavations that are 4 feet or more in depth so that no employee has to travel more than 25 feet laterally to reach them. Walkways are required where employees or equipment are required or permitted to cross excavations. Standard guardrails must be installed on all walkways. Employees working in and around excavations that are exposed to vehicular traffic must be provided with, and wear, warning vests or other suitable garments made with reflectorized or high visibility materials. No employee is permitted beneath any loads handled by lifting or digging equipment. Employees must stand away from any vehicle being loaded or unloaded to avoid being struck by any spillage or falling materials.

2 Operators may remain in the cabs of vehicles being loaded or unloaded when the vehicles are equipped with overhead protection. When mobile equipment must approach the edges of excavations and the operator does not have a clear view of the edge, a warning system such as barricades, hand or mechanical signals, or stop logs must be used. If possible the grade adjacent to excavations should away from the edges. When excavations 4 feet deep or deeper are made in landfill areas or other areas where oxygen deficiency or flammable atmospheres may be reasonably anticipated the atmosphere inside the excavation must be tested before any employee is allowed into it. Adequate precautions must be taken to ensure employees are not exposed to atmospheres that contain less than 19.5% oxygen. These may include adequate ventilation and/or respiratory protection. (Use of respirators in this situation must comply with many specific respiratory protection regulations). Adequate precautions, such as ventilation, must be taken to prevent employee exposures to atmospheres that contain a concentration of a flammable gas in excess of 20% of the lower flammable limit (LFL) for that gas. When controls are utilized to reduce atmospheric hazards, monitoring must be conducted as often as necessary to ensure that the atmosphere remains safe. Emergency rescue equipment such as breathing apparatus, a safety harness and line, or a basket stretcher must be readily available where hazardous atmospheres are reasonably expected to exist or develop. Employees entering bell-bottom pier holes or other similar deep and confined footing excavations must wear a full body harness and a lifeline. The lifeline must be separate from any line used to handle materials and equipment and it must be individually attended at all times while the employee is in the excavation. Employees are not permitted to work in excavations where water is accumulating or has accumulated unless adequate precautions are taken. These precautions vary with each situation but may include; special support or shield systems to protect from cave-ins, water removal equipment or use of a safety harness and lifeline. If water accumulations are controlled with removal equipment the equipment must be attended at all times by a competent person. If the excavation interrupts a natural drainage diversion ditches, dikes or other suitable means must be used to prevent water from entering the excavation. Excavations subject to heavy precipitation must be inspected by a competent person. Support systems (shoring, bracing or underpinning) must be used where the stability of the adjacent structures such as buildings, walls or other structures is endangered. Excavations below existing base or footing of any foundation or retaining wall are not permitted unless; an adequate support system is used, or the excavation is in stable rock or a registered professional engineer has approved the determination that the work will not endanger employees. Sidewalks, pavements or other structures must not be undermined unless a support system or other adequate method is used to safeguard employees from collapse of the structures. Adequate protection must be provided to prevent injury from soil or rock falling from the face of the excavation. This may include; scaling to remove loose materials, installation of barriers to stop and contain falling materials, or other means. Spoil piles and other materials that could fall into the excavation must be kept at least two feet from the edge.

3 When employees are expected to be working in the excavation the competent person must conduct daily inspections to look for situations that could lead to possible cave-ins, indications of failures of protective systems, hazardous atmospheres, water accumulations or other situations that could pose hazards to employees. The inspection must be conducted prior to the start of work each day and as needed throughout the day if conditions warrant. Inspections must also be made after every precipitation event or when frozen ground is thawing due to changing weather conditions. When the competent person believes that employees face hazards associated with cave-ins, failure of protective systems or other reasons he/she must ensure all exposed employees are removed from the hazardous area. Options for Protective Systems Adequate protective systems are required in all excavations unless they are made in stable rock or they are less than five feet deep and examination by a competent person indicates there is no potential for cave-in. If you do not provide protection in excavations more than five feet deep you should document all inspection activities completed by the competent person. All excavations greater than 20 feet deep must have designs for adequate protection approved by a registered professional engineer. Options for protective systems in excavations include benching and/or sloping or support systems such as shielding and barriers. Within these options you can choose to use information supplied by OSHA or designs approved by registered professional engineers. The information supplied by OSHA requires knowledge of the type of soil and provides acceptable configurations for specific situations. Benching and Sloping Option 1 Maximum Allowable Slopes Soil or Rock Type Maximum Allowable Slopes (H:V) 1 for excavations less than 20 feet deep. 2 Stable Rock Vertical (90 degrees) Type A 3 ¾ : 1 (53 degrees) Type B 1 : 1 (45 degrees) Type C 1 ½ : 1 (34 degrees) Notes: Numbers shown in parentheses next to the maximum allowable slopes are angles expressed in degrees from the horizontal. Angles have been rounded off. 1 Slopes are expressed in horizontal over vertical. 2 All protective systems for excavations greater than 20 feet deep must be designed by a registered professional engineer. 3 Exceptions exist for short term exposures (excavation is open less than 24 hours) in Type A soil only. If the excavation is less than 12 feet deep the maximum slope allowed is ½ : 1 (63 degrees). If the excavation is greater than 12 feet deep the maximum slope allowed in ¾ : 1 (53 degrees). Benching and Sloping Option 2 Multiple acceptable configurations are available and are illustrated in Appendix B of depending on soil type and other conditions. Simple slopes, compound slopes, simple benches and

4 multiple benches can all be utilized. In addition, shielding can be used with slopes and benches as illustrated in the Appendix. Benching and Sloping Option 3 Designs approved by a registered professional engineer are acceptable. Designs must be in written form and shall include at least the following: The magnitude of the slopes that were determined to be safe for the particular project; The configurations that were determined to be safe for the particular project; The identity of the registered professional engineer who approved the design. At least one copy of the design must be maintained at the jobsite while the slope is being constructed. After that time the design need not be at the jobsite, but keep a copy for documentation if OSHA requests it. SUPPORT AND SHIELD SYSTEMS Designs for timber shoring used in trenches can be determined using information in the Appendices of Manufacturer s data must be used for aluminum hydraulic shoring or information in the Appendices. Designs by a registered professional engineer are acceptable. Designs must be in written form and must include at least the following: A plan indicating the sizes, types, and configurations of the materials to be used in the protective system; and the identity of the registered professional engineer who approved the design. At least one copy of the design must be maintained at the jobsite while the slope is being constructed. After that time the design need not be at the jobsite, but keep a copy for documentation if OSHA requests it. Installation and Removal of Support Systems Secure and connect members of support systems together to prevent sliding, falling, kickouts, or other predictable failure. Install and remove support systems in a manner that protects employees from cave-ins, structural collapses, or from being struck by members of the support system. Do not subject individual members of support systems to loads exceeding those for which the members were designed to withstand. Before temporary removal of individual members begins, take additional precautions to ensure the safety of employees, such as installing other structural members to carry the loads imposed on the support system. Begin removal at the bottom of the excavation and progress up. Release members slowly so as to note any indication of possible failure of the remaining members of the structure or possible cavein of the sides of the excavation. Backfill the excavation as support systems are removed.

5 Additional Requirements for Support Systems in Trench Excavations Material can be excavated to a level no greater than 2 feet below the bottom of the members of a support system, but only if the system is designed to resist the forces calculated for the full depth of the trench, and there are no indications while the trench is open of a possible loss of soil from behind or below the bottom of the support system. Coordinate the timing of installation of the support system with the excavation of trenches. Employees are not permitted to work on the faces of sloped or benched excavations at levels above other employees except when employees at the lower levels are adequately protected from the hazard of falling, rolling, or sliding material or equipment. Shield Systems Do not subject shield systems to loads exceeding those for which the system was designed to withstand. Install shields to restrict lateral or other hazardous movement of the shield in the event of the application of sudden lateral loads. Protect employees from cave-ins when entering or exiting the areas protected by shields. Employees are not permitted in shields when they are being installed, removed, or moved vertically. Additional Requirement for Shield Systems Used in Trench Excavations Material can be excavated to a level not greater than 2 feet below the bottom of a shield, but only if the shield is designed to resist the forces calculated for the full depth of the trench, and there are no indications while the trench is open of a possible loss of soil from behind or below the bottom of the shield.

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