Policies & Procedures



Environment, Health, & Safety


Trenching and Excavation Procedures

SOP Number: 18.002
Replaces: 18.001
Review by: Environmental Health Office


  • Call UFPO: Make eye contact with the operator of equipment when near
  • Inspect machine from bottom up (off and lowered) 360 degrees:
    • Tire pressure - gage
    • Bent ring (where seal can't be lost)
    • Oil leaks
    • Engine oil, hydraulic fluid - all fluid brakes
    • Cracks in glass (visibility)
    • Wipers
    • Lights: Need written confirmation from manufacturer on filled modifications- keep copies and pictures
    • Lubrication
    • Licensed Slow moving vehicle signage
    • Authorized personnel in writing with class
    • Feel cylinders be hand for scores in hydraulic system
    • Operator's manual (no other reading material or distractions)
    • Gauges all working, lights Seat belts, rear view mirror
    • May need something under as pads
  • No walking backwards
  • Eye protection
  • Hard hat needed on if windows of cab open (operator) if rollover cage
  • Seat belt on at all times
  • Look for dripline of nearby trees (place you can stand under and stay dry)
  • May need to declassify soil if finding roots or other
  • Set up barriers and caution tape based on equipment and trench Red tape - danger - sign in and sign out with permission
  • Yellow tape can be crossed with permission (verbal)
  • May need silt screen and barrier between any water supply
  • Determine location of spills pile (or trench)
  • Designate CP
  • CP briefs crew Have operator scoop off sad to get sample of top soil layer
  • Check water level of any nearby water body
  • Check all personnel for safety shoes, glasses and other equipment
  • Do not lend or borrow ladders for insurance liability. OSHA only approves scaffolding planks
  • If you suspect utilities - you need detection equipment:
    • Metal detector
    • Induction meter
    • Electric meter
    • Vests, measuring tape, gloves, hammer, stakes, level- 2' - keep tools on pallet or all together
  • Inspect ladder - need correct one for dig - look for hazards (no aluminum or electrical)
  • Mark spot for dig (stake)
  • 1926.20 - written plan by employer for all hazards, stay back as far as you are tall - can't fall in inverted paint spray to help operator see
  • Machine can go in hole of it is properly sloped, not before (Look at Assets and Liabilities)
  • To determine level - figure rise over run to get desired ratio (smart level)
  • Trenches must have ladders, excavations can have soil slope
  • CP should be there at all times in case conditions change
  • Have gas meter (Eagle) RKI E0X008 $3000 - goes back to manufacturer for calibration Type 501:
    • Any equipment to go in hole- try to make it so equipment can do work
    • Any handling of material above or below, person to person, don't let go until person says "got it"
    • Do details
    • Have redundancy and backup

Soil Classification

Visual Tests

  • Visual analysis is conducted to determine qualitative information.
    • Observe samples of soil that are excavated and soil on the sides of the excavation. Estimate the range of particle sizes and the relative amounts of the particle sizes. Soil that is primarily composed of fine-grained material is cohesive material. Soil composed primarily of coarse-grained sand or graved is granular material.
    • Observe soil as it is excavated. Soil that remains in clumps is cohesive. Soil that breaks up easily is granular.
  • The walls and faces of all excavations in which employees are exposed to danger from moving ground shall be guarded by a shorting system, sloping of the ground, or some other equivalent means.
  • Any trench deeper than 4ft. will require either structural support or sloping before employees will be permitted to work in the excavation.

Support Systems

  • Members of support systems shall be securely connected together to prevent sliding, falling, kick outs, or other predictable failure.
  • Support Systems shall be installed and removed in a manner that protects employees from cave-ins, structural collapses, or from being struck by members of the support system.
  • Individual members of support systems shall not be subject to loads exceeding those which members were designated to withstand.
  • Excavation of material to a level no greater than 2 Ft. below the bottom of the members of a support system shall be permitted.
  • Materials used for sheeting and sheet piling, bracing, shorting, and underpinning, shall be in good serviceable condition, and timbers used shall be sound and free from large or loose knots, and shall be designed and installed so as to be effective to the bottom of the excavation.
  • Refer to the attached charts for support construction requirements.


All sloping will be in accordance with 29 CFR Part 1926. If possible the simple slope formula of 1/1 will be followed.

Contact Information

Cathleen Eldridge, Director
Phone: 564-5009
Fax: 564-5082
Email: [email protected]

Location and Hours:
136A Service Building
Monday - Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm