Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Five Most Prevalent Myths About OSHA's Excavation Standard


My favorite class to teach is the Excavation Competent Person Training Course. Perhaps that is because it is one of the more relatively complex topic in the federal OSHA standard, and a lot of people seem to misunderstand what is (and is not) required to comply with the regulations. So I thought I’d address the top five most prevalent myths and misconceptions that seem to pop up repeatedly during the classes that I have taught, as well as during site inspections and interviews conducted as an expert witness in lawsuits involving trenching and excavation fatalities.

 MYTH #1“A protective system is not required to . . .
 
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6 comments:

  1. As usual, your points are excellent. I come across all those beliefs in my classes. For Myth #2 I also include considering the distance from surface encumbrances. Even a trench box approved for 12 feet deep might not hold up well close to a large building. Thanks for your insights!

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    1. Wende. You are absolutely correct about surface encumbrances. Most manufacture's instructions for trench boxes spell out a weight limit for the area adjacent to the trench. Thanks for emphasizing that point.

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  2. Here's one I used to run into when training equipment operators...they said the first vertical for a bench is always 5'. OSHA says it's 4'. No one could ever tell me where they got the 5' from, so I considered a myth or just bad info passed down throughout the years. I'll share this with my training groups, really good info!! - Abby Ferri, CSP

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  3. Great information Curtis, thank you for taking the time to share - Madeline Vaughan, CHST, STSC

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  4. Common Misconceptions About Actual OSHA Requirements
    June 1, 2016 - My favorite class to teach is the Excavation Competent Person Training Course. Perhaps that is because it is one of the more relatively complex topic in the federal OSHA standard, and a lot of people seem to misunderstand what is (and is not) required to comply with the regulations. So I thought I’d address the top five most prevalent myths and misconceptions that seem to pop up repeatedly during the classes that I have taught, as well as during site inspections and interviews conducted as an expert witness in lawsuits involving trenching and excavation fatalities.

    MYTH #1 – “A protective system is not required to be utilized in an excavation unless it is at least five (5) feet deep.”
    FALSE. Many times I have heard people say that OSHA’s excavation standard only requires employers to utilize some sort of protective system (trench box, shoring, sloping or benching . . .) whenever a worker is going to enter an excavation five feet or deeper (unless made in stable rock). But what OSHA standard 1926.502(a)(1)(ii) actually requires is that a protective system be utilized in all excavations, even those less than five feet deep, except when “an examination of the ground by a competent person provides no indication of a potential cave-in”.

    The above OSHA REF is not correct. Should have been 1926.652(a)(ii).

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