Beginning on January 1, 2009, all excavators must obtain a permit prior to the creation of a trench made for a construction-related purpose on public or private land or rights-of-way in accordance with Chapter 82A of the Massachusetts General Laws. All municipalities must also establish a local permitting authority for the purpose of issuing these permits, with the designation of the local permitting authority left to the discretion of the individual municipalities. Chapter 82A further directs the Department of Public Safety and the Division of Occupational Safety to jointly draft regulations relative to trench safety. These regulations are codified in section 14.00 of title 520 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations.

In addition to the permit and local permitting authority requirements mandated by statute, the trench safety regulations require that all excavators, whether public or private, take specific precautions to protect the general public and prevent unauthorized access to unattended trenches. Accordingly, unattended trenches must be covered, barricaded or backfilled. Covers must be road plates at least ¾" thick or equivalent; barricades must be fences at least 6' high with no openings greater than 4" between vertical supports; backfilling must be sufficient to eliminate the trench. Alternatively, excavators may choose to attend trenches at all times, for instance by hiring a police detail, security guard or other attendant who will be present during times when the trench will be unattended by the excavator.

The regulations further provided that local permitting authorities, the Department of Public Safety, or the Division of Occupational Safety may order an immediate shutdown of a trench in the event of a death or serious injury; the failure to obtain a permit; or the failure to implement or effectively use adequate protections for the general public. The trench shall remain shutdown until reinspected and authorized to reopen provided, however, that excavators shall have the right to appeal an immediate shutdown. Permitting authorities are further authorized to suspend or revoke a permit following a hearing. Excavators may also be subject to administrative fines issued by the Department of Public Safety for identified violations.

Thank you for visiting the Trench Safety Regulations website. Inquiries relative to a municipality's local permitting authority should be directed to the specific municipality. For additional information about the Trench Safety Regulations please visit the links below.

 

DLS/OSHA Trench Safety Regulations Presentation, June 2016 pptx format of DLS/OSHA Trench Safety Regulations Presentation 2016
file size 96MB

520 CMR 14.00: Excavation and Trench Safety Regulations Presentation, June 2016 ppt format of 520 CMR 14.00 Presentation 2016
file size 2MB

520 CMR 6.00: Hoisting Machinery - Trench Safety Training Presentation, June 2016 pptx format of 520 CMR 6.00: Hoisting Machinery - Trench Safety 2016

 

Model Trench Permit Application doc format of appl_trench_model_permit.doc
 

Trench Laws and Regulations

 

FOR MUNICIPALITIES:

Model Trench Permit/Application for use by Municipalities doc format of form_trench_permit.doc (48kb)
Please note that the Model is geared towards private excavators and will have to be modified for use by municipalities if the municipality is the excavator.

On-Line Notice of Administrative Action Pursuant to the Excavation of Trenches

In order to improve the enforcement of the trench regulation and improve trench safety, the Department of Public Safety requests that permitting authorities notify the Department after administrative action is taken by the permitting authority. The Notice of Administrative Action pdf format of form_trench_notice_admin_action_pursuant_excavatio (546kb) form may be completed electronically and sent to the Department of Public Safety through the e-mail function by clicking "submit". Thank you for your assistance.


Please contact Kimberly Spencer at Kimberly.Spencer@state.ma.us to add your municipality's permitting authority contact information to the DPS Permitting Authority List.

 

FOR PUBLIC AGENCIES:

On-Line Notice of Issuance of Permit

When issuing a permit, public agencies are required to electronically notify the Department of Public Safety of the permit's issuance. 520 CMR 14.03 (2) (c). The Notice of Issuance of Permit for the Excavation of Trenches pdf format of form_trench_notice_ins_permit_excavation_public_ag (531kb) form may be completed electronically. Once you have completed the form, click "submit" to send it to the Department of Public Safety.

On-Line Notice of Administrative Action Pursuant to the Excavation of Trenches

In order to improve the enforcement of the trench regulation and improve trench safety, the Department of Public Safety requests that permitting authorities notify the Department after administrative action is taken by the permitting authority. The Notice of Administrative Action pdf format of form_trench_notice_admin_action_pursuant_excavatio (546kb) form may be completed electronically and sent to the Department of Public Safety through the e-mail function by clicking "submit". Thank you for your assistance.