OSHA Video Explains How to Properly Classify Soil for Trench Safety

Photo by  Jacoby Clarke

Photo by Jacoby Clarke

In 2018, OSHA announced that reducing trenching an excavation hazards on construction sites would be their priority goal. Since that time, the agency has releases a variety of different materials to help build outreach to contractors across the country, including updating their National Emphasis Program (NEP) on trench safety. On a recent newsletter, OSHA highlighted a video about soil classification in trenches and excavations, meant as an introduction to those who want to know more about the process.

In the 11 minute video, you’ll get a pretty solid visual for what different types of soil look like and react.  It also give an overview of several different soil testing methods, including the plasticity test, the thumb penetration test, and the pocket penetrometer test.  OSHA recommends that the competent person on-site use at least two different methods in order to properly classify the soil.

It’s important for someone to know and understand this process, because it can directly determine the amount of risk a worker will be in if he or she enters a trench or excavation.  One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds, so using the correct soil classification to determine the level of trench and excavation protection can save a life.

Check out OSHA’s video below (in both English and Spanish) for more information: