Checklist Library

Checklist – Excavation or Trench Daily Inspection

Digging and trenching are among the most dangerous operations in the construction industry. Hazards can include cave-ins, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and heavy equipment hazards. Regular pre-job inspections can reduce hazards and the serious risk of injury. Safety inspections should verify the type of excavation being performed, warning and support systems installed, access areas, weather conditions, heavy equipment, and PPE.

Workplace inspection

1.1 The competent person has the authority to remove employees from the excavation immediately.

1.2 Are work surfaces kept dry or are there other protective measures including drainage, raised floors, platforms, mats, and designated dry standing areas? Excavations, adjacent areas, and protective systems inspected by a Competent Person daily prior to start from work.

1.3 Surface loads removed or supported.

1.4 Debris, materials, and equipment must be removed to at least two feet from the edge of the excavation.

1.5 Barriers provided in all excavations, pits, pits, pits, etc. located in remote places.

1.6 Walkways and bridges over excavations four feet or more in depth are equipped with standard guardrails and toeboards.

1.7 Warning system established and used when mobile equipment is operating near the edge of the excavation.

1.8 Employees protected from loose rock or dirt that could present a hazard by falling or rolling into the excavation.

1.9 Employees required to stay away from vehicles being loaded or unloaded.

1.10 Employees prohibited from going under suspended loads.

1.11 Employees are prohibited from working on the faces of slopes or excavations with benches above other employees.

1.12 Hard hats worn by all employees.

1.13 Warning vests or other highly visible clothing provided and worn by all employees exposed to public vehicular traffic.


2.1 Public service companies contacted and/or public services located.

2.2 Exact location of marked utilities.

2.3 Underground facilities protected, supported or removed when the excavation is open.

Input and output

3.1 Lateral displacement to means of egress of not more than 25 feet in excavations four feet or more in depth.

3.2 Ladders used in excavations secured and extended three feet above the edge of the trench.

3.3 Structural ramps used by employees designed by a competent person.

3.4 Structural ramps used for equipment designed by a Registered Professional Engineer (RPE)

3.5 Ramps built with materials of uniform thickness, assembled at the bottom, provided with a non-slip surface.

3.6 Employees protected from cave-ins when entering or exiting the excavation.

Wet conditions

4.1 Precautions are taken to protect employees from pooling water.

4.2 Water removal equipment supervised by a competent person.

4.3 Surface water or runoff diverted or controlled to prevent accumulation in the excavation.

4.4 Inspections conducted after each storm or other event that increases the hazard.

Dangerous atmosphere

5.1 Atmosphere within the tested excavation where there is a reasonable possibility of oxygen deficiency, fuel, or other harmful contaminant exposing employees to a hazard.

5.2 Appropriate precautions are taken to protect employees from exposure to an atmosphere containing less than 19.5% oxygen and/or other hazardous atmospheres.

5.3 Ventilation provided to prevent employee exposure to an atmosphere containing flammable gas in excess of 10% of the lower explosive limit for the gas.

5.4 Tests are performed frequently to ensure that the atmosphere remains safe.

5.5 Emergency equipment such as breathing apparatus, safety harness and lifeline, and/or basket stretcher readily available where hazardous atmospheres may or do exist.

5.6 Employees trained to use personal protective equipment and other rescue equipment.

5.7 Safety harness and lifeline used and attended to individually when entering bell bottoms or other deep confined excavations

Systems support

6.1 Materials and/or equipment for the support systems selected based on soil analysis, trench depth and expected loads.

6.2 Materials and equipment used for the protection systems inspected and in good condition.

6.3 Materials and equipment that are not in good condition have been withdrawn from service.

6.4 Damaged materials and equipment used for protective systems inspected by a Registered Professional Engineer (RPE) after repairs and before being returned to service.

6.5 Protective systems installed without exposing employees to cave-in hazards, cave-ins, or threats of being struck by materials or equipment.

6.6 Support system members are securely fastened to prevent failure.

6.7 The support systems provided guarantee the stability of structures, buildings, driveways, sidewalks, walls, etc. adjacent.

6.8 Excavations below the level of the base or supported footing, approved by an RPE.

6.9 Removal of support systems proceeds from the bottom and members are released for any indication of possible failure.

6.10 The filling proceeds with the removal of the support system.

6.11 Excavation of material to a level not more than two feet below the bottom of the support system and only if the system is designed to support the calculated loads for its full depth.

6.12 Shield system placed to prevent lateral movement.

6.13 Employees are prohibited from remaining in the restraint system during vertical movement.



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