How Far Spoil Piles and Equipment Must Be Kept

Matt at Centex Excavation
Author: MattPublished: March 29, 2022 Updated: December 27, 2023 • Filed Under: Excavating and Grading

Key Takeaways

  1. Minimum Distance Requirement: Spoil piles should be placed at least 2 feet away from the trench edge, and the minimum recommended distance for spoil placement from the edge of an excavation is 0.6 meters for each meter of excavation depth.
  2. Safety Precautions: Using retaining devices like trench boxes is essential to prevent spoil and equipment from falling back into the trench, especially when a 2-foot setback isn’t possible.
  3. OSHA Regulations Compliance: Adherence to OSHA trenching and excavation rules (29 CFR 1926.651 and 1926.652) is mandatory, with trenches 5 feet deep or more requiring a protection system, except in solid rock excavations.

Cave-ins are among the most significant dangers and the most common cause of accidents that occur in an area of construction. The spoil pile could contribute to the occurrence of accidental mishaps. Are you placing the spoil piles a safe distance from your equipment?

Spoil Piles in Renton Described

Spoil-pile is a common expression that refers to a pile of solid matter excavated. It is often soil, crushed concrete, and dirt. The pile itself doesn’t pose an especially risky one. But, if you place the pile in the vicinity of the trench, it can pose a danger. The weight of the debris could result in the trench becoming collapse. The larger the pile, the higher the chance of triggering an avalanche.

How High Is a Spoil Pile Should Be When Placed in The Trench?

Set equipment and spoils at least 2 feet apart when digging. Use the retaining device, for example, trench boxes, which will extend over the top of the trench to keep spoils and equipment from being thrown back into the trench. If the site does not allow a setback of 2 feet, the spoils could need to be transported temporarily to another site.

What’s The Minimum Distance Between the Edge of The Excavation?

The minimum distance recommended for the placement of the excavated soil (spoil) from the edge of the excavation must be at least the depth of the excavation. The minimum acceptable distance for a spoil to be located at the edges of excavations is 0.6 meters for each meter in excavation’s depth.

What Is the Reason You Require the Use of A Spoil Pile In An Excavation?

This creates an uneven walkway on the edge of the trench. This may conceal cracks in the soil that could indicate a possible failure of the earth. Therefore, maintaining the setback or taking other corrective actions is essential for the excavation’s skilled person.

Which Is The Safest Spot To Set Up A Trash Pile?

All spoils must be two feet from trenches and other designated excavation zones. In no way should anyone place spoils near the edge of the trench. Utilize a trench box or another retaining device to stop spoil piles from falling back to the bottom of the trench.

At What Distance Materials Be Dumped from An Excavation?

Falls and fallen loads such as excavation dirt or job site equipment may be thrown into a truncated area, causing a crushing to anyone who is working beneath. This is why OSHA stipulates that job site equipment be kept at least two feet from any edge in excavation.

The normative standard for digging and trenching is established. Employers must adhere to the trenching and excavation rules from 29 CFR 1926.651 and 1926.652 or similar OSHA-approved state plans. Trenches that are 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep or deeper require a protection system. An exception would be if the excavation is constructed entirely from solid rock.

Play it safe and keep your distance.

When establishing safety measures around your worksite, it’s important that your spoil piles and equipment are kept a safe distance apart. The safety of your workers is paramount. It should be one of your primary focuses at each job.

About the Author

Matt Avatar


Excavation Expert

Matt is a highly experienced heavy equipment operator with over two decades of experience in the construction industry. His expertise covers a wide range of machinery and project types, and he is known for his focus on safety, efficiency, and problem-solving. Matt's commitment to delivering high-quality work within deadlines and budgets has made him highly respected at Centex Excavation and the excavation industry.

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