Spoil Placement

Are spoils at least 2 feet back from the excavation?

If spoils are not 2 feet back, do you use retaining devices, such as a trench box, to protect the excavation site?

Are the spoils placed so that rainwater and other run-off move away from the excavation?

If spoils can’t be placed safely at the excavation site, are they hauled to another location?

Protection Systems

Has a competent person selected the site’s protection system?

Has a competent person overseen the installation of the protection system?

Is the protection system accurate for the soil type?

Is the protection system inspected every day by the competent person?

Safe Entry and Exit

Do all workers have a safe way to enter and exit if the excavation is 4 or more feet deep?

Is access within 25 lateral feet of workers?

Are access ramps designed by a competent person?

Do ramps have a non-slip surface?

Do all workers walk upright on an earthen ramp?

Are ladders secured?

Do ladders extend at least 36 inches above the landing?

Do all workers avoid using metal ladders if electricity is present at the site?

Vehicle Safety

Do all workers wear a warning vest marked with or made of reflectorized or high visibility materials?

Is there a trained flag person who designates traffic at the excavation site?

Are all workers trained to use hand or mechanical signals as a way to communicate?

Is the excavation site fenced and barricaded at night?

Does mobile equipment have a warning system?

Surface Crossing

If there is a vehicle crossing, is it designed and installed under the supervision of a registered professional engineer?

Do walkways have a minimum clear width of 20 inches?

Are walkways fitted with handrails?

Do walkways extend a minimum of 24 inches past the surface edge of the trench?

Water Management

If there is water, does the site have special support or shield systems approved by a registered professional engineer?

Does the site have water removal equipment, such as pumps, used and monitored by a competent person?

Are surface waters diverted from the excavation?

Do all workers use safety harnesses or lifelines?

Are employees required to leave the site during rainstorms?

Is the site carefully inspected by a competent person after each rain and before employees are permitted to re-enter?

Hazardous Atmosphere

Is the atmosphere tested for possible oxygen deficiency or build-up?

Is the oxygen content maintained at between 19.5% and 21%?

Is ventilation provided to prevent flammable gas build-up to 20% of lower explosive limit of the gas?

Is emergency response equipment readily available?


Is the excavation site inspected by a competent person?

Is the site inspected daily and before the start of each shift?

Is site inspected after rainstorms?

Is the site inspected after other events that could increase hazards such as snowstorms, windstorms, thaws or earthquakes?

Is the site inspected when fissures, cracks, sloughing, undercutting, water seepage or bulging at the bottom occur?

Is the site inspected when there is a change in the size, location or placement of the spoil pile?

Is the site inspected when there is indication of change or movement in adjacent structures?

Are site inspections documented?

General Safety Practices

Are all workers wearing hard hats at all times?

Do all workers avoid working or walking under a suspended load?

Do all workers avoid working on faces of sloped or benched excavations above other employees?


List recommendations here

Full Name and Signature of Inspector
Please note that this checklist is a hypothetical example and provides basic information only. It is not intended to take the place of, among other things, workplace, health and safety advice; medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment; or other applicable laws. You should also seek your own professional advice to determine if the use of such checklist is permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.