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A client has been told by the project safety officer that fall protection is needed for workers working on an excavation site. For anyone who may get near the edge of the trench. Excavation is barricaded. No other trades in area. The only workers near the edge of the trench are entering trench by means of a ladder into the trench box. Competent person will also look into trench from above. Inspectors (who work for the project safety officers company) may need to near the edge. No one is working above near the edge of the trench. Usual precautions are taken for heavy equipment and to prevent items from falling into trench. There are no regulations that require tying off when near trench edge or any best practices that I’m aware of.
What I have seen is the use of 4 ft orange barrier fence with holes and attach securely to metal posts driven into the ground every 4 ft or so. Just inspect reasonably frequently. Bridge walkways are also common where crossings are needed. Falling into a trench at some location other than the trench box which incurs an injury will result in fines $150,000-200,000 from OSHA* – look at the current issue of BNA OSHA Reporter for the 150K example. This type fine recurs every month or so. Why take an injury plus penalty risk. *Expect a Third Party lawsuit for several million against whoever can be brought into the suit – this will depend on state law.