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What is the difference between excavation and trenching?


Excavating and trenching describe man-made holes created in the ground.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA, it is the shape and depth of the hole that determines whether the opening is a trench or excavation. Any projects that require major excavation or trenching must be completed by a professional crew.

What is excavating?

OSHA defines an excavation as a cavity, man-made cut, trench or depression in the ground that removes earth. An excavation can be any size shape.


What defines a trench?

On the other hand, a trench is defined as a narrow hole made below the surface of the ground. In general, the depth is greater than the width, but the width of a trench (measured at the bottom) is not greater than 15 ft.

Therefore, a trench is an excavation, but an excavation is not a trench. Normally, a trench refers to long, narrow surface cavities dug to install pipes and utility lines.


At Cloud 9 Services, we use hydro excavation as a way to access subsurface material. This eliminates the need to dig large areas.

If you are in need of excavation or trenching for your next project, feel free to contact Cloud 9 Services today. We are available 24/7 and on call for emergencies.


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