Excavation Safety: A Refresher Guide to Staying Safe on the Job

For many reading this article you might think this is just another safety topic.  Been there,… read that.  Which may be true. However this is a refresher for your memory as to what is required on excavations during work.  Often we get in a hurry, and skip some aspects of the excavation process.  Below we have attached a quick checklist for you to download and use on your projects.  A couple of quick videos to watch to help bring home some subtle safety points we may overlook.

Excavation work can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Workers can be at risk of cave-ins, falls, electrocution, and other hazards. That's why it's important to follow safety guidelines and use the appropriate protective equipment when working in or around excavations. Here are some tips for staying safe on the job:

  • Conduct a site assessment: Before beginning work, assess the site for potential hazards. Identify any underground utilities or other hazards that could pose a danger to workers.
  • Have a competent person oversee the work: A competent person is someone who is trained and knowledgeable about excavation safety. This person should be responsible for overseeing the work and ensuring that all safety procedures are being followed.
  • Use protective equipment: All workers on the job site should be equipped with the appropriate protective gear, including hard hats, eye and ear protection, and steel-toed boots.
    Avoid overhead hazards: Stay clear of overhead power lines and other hazards that could fall onto the excavation.
  • Protect against cave-ins: Use sloping, shoring, or shielding to protect against cave-ins. Always remember to enter and exit excavations using a safe means of egress.
  • Excavation deeper than 20' requires a professional engineer to design a protective system.
  • Often, the client will require the excavation operator to be trained as competent person as well.

Sample Excavation Checklist:

Use the attached checklist to ensure that you have taken all necessary precautions before starting excavation work:

  • Have all utilities been located and marked?
    Has a trained competent person conducted a site assessment?
  • Is the excavation properly sloped, shored, or shielded to prevent cave-ins?
  • Is there a safe means of access & egress from the excavation every 25' of lateral travel?
  • Is there access and egress on both sides of the pipe?
  • Is the spoil pile properly located 2' or more away from the leading edge of the ditch?
  • Are workers wearing the appropriate protective equipment?
  • Have workers been trained in excavation safety?
    Has equipment operator been trained to build a proper bell hole?
  • Is there a plan in place for responding to emergencies?
  • Are overhead hazards properly identified and avoided?
  • Are barricades and warning signs in place to keep unauthorized persons out of the excavation?
    Did you check for hazardous atmospheres within the ditch?
  • Is there standing water in the ditch?
  • Workers kept clear of overhead power lines and a gas line was properly marked and avoided during excavation.

These are just some of the tasks needed prior to having your workers entering the excavation.  Below is an attached sample excavation checklist.

Safety Employee of the Month!


Derek Mrocek has been selected as our Safety Employee of the Month. We wanted to thank Derek for always putting safety first and dedication to making Cleveland Integrity and Eagle Infrastructure #1.

Interview Questions:

Why is Safety so important to you?
Derek: Safety is important for the health and safety of the employees and the general public.

Why do you think submitting Near Miss reports is important
Derek: Submitting near misses provides feedback and lessons learned that can hopefully prevent an accident or injury.

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