Excavation - National Safety Council


1% of Non-roadway Fatalities*

Excavation activities, common in construction operations, are defined as those which uncover any man-made cut, cavity, trench or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. Cave-ins present a large risk, but other possible hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres and incidents related to mobile equipment.**

The information in each section below is listed in the order of relevance to the hazardous situation.

Situational risks – inherent to the situation or proximate cause of injury
  • Trench collapse
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Struck by equipment part
  • Struck by vehicle
  • Struck by debris
Systemic risks – contribute to injury but are not direct causes
  • Lack of workplace awareness
  • Poor trench design
  • Lack of training
  • Hazardous terrain
  • Faulty equipment
  • Inclement weather
Relevant Technology Solutions

* Safety Technology 2020: Mapping Technology Solutions for Reducing Serious Injuries and Fatalities in the Workplace

** OSHA: Trenching and Excavation Safety

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