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An overview of trench safety in California

Working at a construction site where trenches are present can be incredibly dangerous. Trenches need to be built carefully and then maintained so that workers in and around them do not suffer injuries or even death. When you go to work each day in California with trenches, you need to know how to safely perform your job duties.

Any trench that is five feet or deeper requires a protective system to be installed before any employees are allowed in the trench. This requirement is excused when the trench is dug in stable rock. If the trench is 20 feet or deeper, the protective system built must have been constructed by an engineer.

The standards set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require that all trenches be inspected on a daily basis. Inspections should also be performed when the conditions in or around the trench change. Inspections are conducted in order to make sure all excavation hazards are removed from the trench.

Safe egress and access in all trenches four feet or deeper are required by OSHA standards. These include ramps, ladders, steps and other methods of exit. These should be present within 25 feet of all employees at all times.

Employees should test for low oxygen levels, gas and other hazards routinely. Employees should never work in the trench when a heavy load is being held over it.

Trench safety is paramount to the health and safety of all employees on the job site in an effort to prevent workplace injuries. Everyone should be aware of the trench, its dimensions, when it was dug and how often it has been inspected.

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