Copy of 520 CMR 14.00 Jackie’s Law

520 CMR 14.00 Jackie’s Law


Who do the regulations apply to, and how?

  • Apply to ANY excavator, whether a public agency, public utility, municipal DPW, private company or citizen.
  • Permits must be obtained prior to beginning the excavation of a trench in or on any: – Public way – Public property – Privately owned land
  • Exceptions are provided for emergencies.

When will a Trench Permit be necessary?

  • Permits are required whenever you are making a trench, as that definition applies.
  • Note, however, that the Trench Safety regulations must be read in conjunction with the Building Code.

Excavations solely to place a foundation generally fall outside the definition of a trench (according to c. 82A) therefore they do not require a trench permit. Building Code and Trench Regulations provide for many of the same General Public protections, with some exceptions.

  • Finally, some excavations may require both a trench and a building permit. Who issues the permit to create a trench?
  • Each city, town, or regional entity issues the permit for municipal or private property.
  • State agencies issue for state property/
  • The permitting authority is responsible for:
    • The issuance of trench permits;
    • The collection of permit fees; and
    • The enforcement of protections for the General Public required by 520 CMR 14.04.

Note: this permit is similar to the Street Opening Permit, the application may be included with that application.

What is needed to obtain a permit?

  •  Required:
    • A completed application to excavate a trench; and
    • A certificate of insurance with general liability coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per claim. (See MGL c. 82A, §2)
  • Optional at discretion of municipality:
    • A reasonable permit fee. The purpose of the fee is to cover the administrative costs of reviewing and processing the permits. What information must the permit application require?
  • The requirements of the permit application are outlined in 520 CMR 14.03(4):
    • Dig Safe number;
    • Name and contact information of the permit holder;
    • Name and contact information of the excavator(s);
  • The permitting authority should realize that the specific excavator, competent person; and person performing the excavation may change on complex projects. Therefore, information may be updated as necessary during the course of the project.
    • Name of the competent person(s);
    • Name of the person(s) performing the excavation of the trench;
    • Permit expiration date (where applicable);
    • Specific location of the trench (pursuant to MGL c. 82A,§2)
    • Name and contact information of the insurer; and
    • Statements required by MGL c. 82A, §3 relative to the requirement of familiarity with 520 CMR 14.00 and 29 CFR 1926.650 (OSHA).

Do excavators need a permit even in the case of an emergency?

  • Emergency: an unforeseen condition in which the safety of the public is in imminent danger because of a threat to life or health or where immediate correction is required to maintain or restore essential public utility service.
  • Emergencies relax the requirement for a permit before beginning to excavate, but not the requirement for a permit all together.
  • Excavators must still obtain a permit from the permitting authority upon the first reasonable opportunity (i.e. business hours).

What do authorities look for at a trench site?

  • Authorities are not required to conduct inspections.
  • Is the trench unattended?
  • Is the permit posted in plain view at the site of the trench?
    • What’s plain view?
  • The cabs of the hoisting equipment (so as not to block the view of the operator);
  • The window of the construction trailer.
  • Is the permit provided upon request?
  • Have effective protections for the General Public been implemented?
  • Does the information at the site match the information on the permit?

Municipalities are required to shut down trenches where a violation is found and may take other actions.

When do permitting authorities order an immediate shutdown?

  • When the municipality finds:
    • A fatality or serious injury to the general public; or
    • A failure to use effective protections for the General Public as required by 14.04; or
    • Any other condition that constitutes a serious threat to life, limb, or property of the General Public as determined by the Permitting Authority; or
    • The excavator failed to obtain a permit.
  • Shutdown remains in effect until condition corrected to satisfaction of authority responsible for shut down.
    • Reinspection required.
    • Permit holder has a right to appeal immediate shutdown within 10 calendar days.

What are effective protections for the General Public?

  • Protecting the General Public from unauthorized access to unattended trenches is as easy as A-B-B-C.
    1. Attendance
    2. Barriers
    3. Backfill; or
    4. Covers
  • All unattended trenches must be protected from access, whether on public ways, public lands, and private property.


OSHA Regulations 29 CFR 1926.650 Subpart P

This is only a partial listing of 29 CFR 1926.650. For a full listing visit the OSHA website.

Inspect excavations:

  • Before construction begins.
  • Daily before each shift.
  • As needed throughout the shift.
  • Following rainstorms or other hazard-increasing events (such as a vehicle or other equipment approaching the edge of an excavation).


Inspections must be conducted by a competent person who:

  • Has training in soil analysis.
  • Has training in the use of protective systems.
  • Is knowledgeable about the OSHA requirements.
  • Has authority to immediately eliminate hazards.


OSHA Regulations 29 CFR 1926.650 Subpart P


The estimated location of utility installations, such as sewer, telephone, fuel, electric, water lines, or any other underground installations that reasonably may be expected to be encountered during excavation work, shall be determined prior to opening an excavation.


Means of egress from trench excavations. A stairway, ladder, ramp or other safe means of egress shall be located in trench excavations that are 4 feet (1.22 m) or more in depth so as to require no more than 25 feet (7.62 m) of lateral travel for employees.


Exposure to vehicular traffic. Employees exposed to public vehicular traffic shall be provided with, and shall wear, warning vests or other suitable garments marked with or made of reflectorized or high-visibility material.


Exposure to falling loads. No employee shall be permitted underneath loads handled by lifting or digging equipment. Employees shall be required to stand away from any vehicle being loaded or unloaded to avoid being struck by any spillage or falling materials. Operators may remain in the cabs of vehicles being loaded or unloaded when the vehicles are equipped, in accordance with 1926.601(b)(6), to provide adequate protection for the operator during loading and unloading operations.


Where oxygen deficiency (atmospheres containing less than 19.5 percent oxygen) or a hazardous atmosphere exists or could reasonably be expected to exist, such as in excavations in landfill areas or excavations in areas where hazardous substances are stored nearby, the atmospheres in the excavation shall be tested before employees enter excavations greater than 4 feet (1.22 m) in depth.


Adequate precautions shall be taken to prevent employee exposure to atmospheres containing less than 19.5 percent oxygen and other hazardous atmospheres.


Adequate precaution shall be taken such as providing ventilation, to prevent employee exposure to an atmosphere containing a concentration of a flammable gas in excess of 20 percent of the lower flammable limit of the gas.


Employees shall not work in excavations in which there is accumulated water, or in excavations in which water is accumulating, unless adequate precautions have been taken to protect employees against the hazards posed by water accumulation.


If water is controlled or prevented from accumulating by the use of water removal equipment, the water removal equipment and operations shall be monitored by a competent person to ensure proper operation.


Where the stability of adjoining buildings, walls, or other structures is endangered by excavation operations, support systems such as shoring, bracing, or underpinning shall be provided to ensure the stability of such structures for the protection of employees.


Sidewalks, pavements and appurtenant structure shall not be undermined unless a support system or another method of protection is provided to protect employees from the possible collapse of such structures.


Employees shall be protected from excavated or other materials or equipment that could pose a hazard by falling or rolling into excavations. Protection shall be provided by placing and keeping such materials or equipment at least 2 feet (.61 m) from the edge of excavations.


Daily inspections of excavations, the adjacent areas, and protective systems shall be made by a competent person.

520 CMR 14.00 Excavation and Trenching Safety


Jackie’s Law

Under the new regulation, a trench is defined as a subsurface excavation greater than 3’ in depth, and is 15 feet or less between soil walls as measured from the bottom.


All regulated trenches must be attended, 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 and all horizontal supports required to be located on the trench-side of the fencing.


This applies to all construction-related trenches on public ways, public property, or private property.


All excavators must obtain a trench permit for each trench site.  The new trench permit will require information such as the name of excavator, the location of trench, a certificate of insurance, and the Dig Safe number.


Permitting authorities are not required to conduct inspections of trenches for which they have issued permits.  However, a permitting authority notified of a potential violation is authorized to take action, including an immediate shutdown, if violations of the new regulation are identified.

Excavators may also be subject to administrative fines issued by the Department of Public Safety for violations.


This new regulation in no way modifies or supersedes existing trench worker safety regulations.  Workers in trenches must comply with the existing OSHA Excavation Standard, 29 CFR 1926, Subpart P.  This public safety regulation is entirely separate from and has no relationship to the existing trench worker safety standard.