Trenching and excavation work poses many hazards such as cave-ins, equipment struck-by incidents, potential falls, and striking underground utilities.
OSHA regulations consider any digging activity as excavating. Anyone who is doing any kind of excavating activity MUST call 811 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to working on excavations or trenches.
Excavations done on or near roads, near buildings and other structures may put workers at additional risks from surface encumbrances. Surface encumbrances could be any existing structure that could be made unstable by the excavation work.
Examples of surface encumbrances include:
- Excavating underneath curbs, sidewalks, or roads
- Excavating near power, utility poles, or trees
- Excavating near a residence, building, wall, or fence line
Surface encumbrances must always be supported or braced to protect workers.
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