up arrow to top of page

The Dangers of Surface Encumbrances During Excavation

Surface Encumbrances Can Be a Hazard During Excavation



Trenching and excavation work poses many hazards such as cave-ins, equipment struck-by incidents, potential falls, and striking underground utilities.

OSHA Standard 1926.650(b) "Excavation" means any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in an earth surface, formed by earth removal.

OSHA regulations consider any digging activity as excavating. Anyone who is doing any kind of excavating activity MUST call 811 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to working on excavations or trenches.

Excavations done on or near roads, near buildings and other structures may put workers at additional risks from surface encumbrances. Surface encumbrances could be any existing structure that could be made unstable by the excavation work.

Examples of surface encumbrances include:

  • Excavating underneath curbs, sidewalks, or roads
  • Excavating near power, utility poles, or trees
  • Excavating near a residence, building, wall, or fence line
Excavation on Road Creates Surface Encumbrance
The concrete road could be considered a surface encumbrance. Note the excavation under the road requires support.

Surface encumbrances must always be supported or braced to protect workers.

OSHA Standard 1926.651(a) Surface encumbrances. All surface encumbrances that are located so as to create a hazard to employees shall be removed or supported, as necessary, to safeguard employees.

Weeklysafety.com is giving away 10 free safety topics, no credit card required! Take advantage and grab your free set of safety meeting topics today by clicking the button below.

A membership to Weeklysafety.com comes at a very low price that never goes up no matter how many employees you have and no matter how many awesome safety topics you use. Included in your membership are hundreds of safety topics that you can use for your safety meetings, toolbox talks and safety moments.

Take a look at our website to learn more about everything that comes with a Weeklysafety.com membership. Click below to learn more today!

Download this free report today and get inspired to improve your workplace safety program!

Other safety articles

As an amazon associate weeklysafety.com earns from qualifying purchases.