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Dig a hole in the ground and you have made an excavation. Excavations can be any size: wide, narrow, deep, or shallow. A trench is an excavation, too, but it is not more than 15 feet wide at the bottom. And, if you install forms or other structures in an excavation that reduce its width to less than 15 feet, measured at the bottom, the excavation is also considered a trench.

  • If you work in an excavation that is five feet deep (or deeper), you must be protected from a cave-in.
  • If a competent person determines that there is a potential for an excavation to cave-in, you must be protected regardless of its depth.

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  • Trench cave-in
    An Oregon OSHA compliance officers happened by this jobsite without trench shoring, and recorded his request to have the worker get out of the unsafe trench. Moments after that conversation started, the trench collapsed.
    English 1:31 minutes  

Additional Resources

Call 811 before you dig - Oregon Utility Notification Center

Technical Manual, Section V: Construction Operations,
Chapter 2: Excavations: Hazard Recognition in Trenching and Shoring


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