Survey of Construction Related Trench Cave-Ins

by Louis J. Thompson, (M.ASCE), Assoc. Prof.; Civ. Engrg. Dept., Texas A&M Univ., College Station, Tex.,
Ronald J. Tanenbaum, (A.M.ASCE), Asst. Prof.; Civ. Engrg. Dept., Univ. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Construction Division, 1977, Vol. 103, Issue 3, Pg. 501-512

Document Type: Journal Paper


Newspapers, state and Federal agencies, insurance companies, and trenching contractors were contacted to determine causes and occurrences of cave-ins. In the United States alone, approximately 100 fatalities occur annually from cave-ins. The vast majority of fatal cave-ins occur in shallow unshored excavations, primarily sewer lines. Presence of construction equipment and adverse climatic conditions are strongly supporting factors. No part of the country is immune to cave-ins, and every type of soil is susceptible. Although technical knowledge is available to handle this problem, the majority of cave-ins have resulted from the lack of application of this knowledge. It seems that engineering investigations are not being made after a cave-in to determine the cause.

Subject Headings: Surveys (non-geomatic) | Construction management | Trenches | Construction equipment | Federal government | Insurance | Contractors and subcontractors | Accidents | United States

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