#38 Trenching & Excavation

Minimum Safety Requirements:


  • Before opening an excavation, these actions must be taken:
    • Identify subsurface installations prior to opening an excavation and ensure they are marked.
    • Notify all regional notification centers and all subsurface installations owners who are not members of the notification centers, two working days before starting work.
    • Receive positive response from all known owners/operators of subsurface installations.
    • Meet with owners/operators of high priority (pipelines, electrical lines > 60,000 volts, etc.) subsurface installations that are located within 10 feet of the proposed excavation.
    • Qualified persons (meet training and competency requirements) perform subsurface installation locating activities.
    • All exposed employees trained in excavator notification/excavation activities.
    • Obtain permit from OSHA if workers are required to enter an excavation that is 5 feet deep or deeper.


  • While excavating, the exact locations of underground utilities must be determined by safe and acceptable means.
  • Excavators must immediately notify the subsurface installation owner/operator of any damage discovered during or caused by excavating activities. If the damage or escaping material endangers life or property, immediately notify 911.
  • While the excavation is open, the underground utilities must be protected, supported, or removed as necessary.