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Trenching & Shoring Fact Sheet


Excavation and trenching are extremely hazardous operations that expose workers to the possibility of serious injury or death. The greatest hazard associated with trenching is the cave-in of the surrounding soil on workers in the trench, the result often being fatal. Other hazards involved in trenching include falls, confined spaces, and exposure to underground utilities such as gas, steam and electricity. Employees involved in excavation operations should be knowledgeable about how to minimize these hazards.

Applicable University Policy

UMD Trenching and Shoring Plan

Applicable Regulations

  • 29 CFR 1926 Subpart P - Excavations
  • Annotated Code of Maryland
  • (COMAR) Article 78
  • Subtitle 28A - Underground Utilities

Summary of Requirements

  • Before excavation, underground utilities shall be located and marked. Adjacent structures shall be stabilized.
  • Appropriate barricades, fences, protected walkways and signs shall be provided to protect the public.
  • A competent person shall be in charge of each excavation who is trained to identify hazardous conditions and who has the authority to take corrective action. The competent person shall inspect excavations on a daily basis and after every rain.
  • Workers shall be protected from cave-ins by either an adequate sloping system or an adequate support or protective system.
  • Stairs or ladders shall be provided when workers enter excavations more than 4 feet deep.
  • A means of exiting the trench shall be provided every 25 feet.
  • Workers shall stay away from any equipment loading or unloading material. Excavated or other material shall be retained 2 feet or more from the edge of the excavation.
  • Workers shall not enter or work in trenches with hazardous atmospheres without adequate controls.
  • Workers shall wear all required personal protective equipment including hardhats, safety footwear, gloves, eye protection, hearing protection and fall protection devices as needed.


All designated supervisors acting as the competent person shall attend the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI) training course "Competent Person Training for Trench Construction."

All other personnel who perform work in excavations shall be trained in safe work practices, use of personal protective equipment, procedures to be followed if a hazardous atmosphere exists, and emergency procedures.


For the University of Maryland contact Facilities Management to locate and mark underground electric, steam, gas, sewer and water mains. Contact the Department of Communication and Business Services to locate and mark underground telecommunication lines.

Facilities Management - Customer Response Center (301) 405-2222

Dept. of Communication and Business Services - Telecommunications (301) 405-4400

For locations off-campus, call Miss Utility at (800) 257-7777 to locate and mark all underground utilities. Call 48 hours before the excavation work is to begin.

For emergency situations that include the injury or entrapment of a worker, the breaking of a gas line or the uncontrolled release of any other hazardous material. Call 9-1-1.


Each department shall maintain records of employee training, documentation of daily trench inspections, and any protective system designed by an engineer. A copy of protective systems designed by an engineer shall be maintained on the job site.

Copies of training documentation of "Competent Persons" shall be maintained at the Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk.

University Resources

Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (301) 405-3960
ESSR Fax No.    (301) 314-9294
ESSR Website:

Written 5/98
Reviewed 3/04

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