Jackie’s Law

Beginning in January of 2009, Massachusetts will be enforcing a new regulation that will affect our projects when we have an operation that requires an excavation or trench. Anytime we have a trench that is more than 3 feet deep, we will need to apply for a permit with the controlling city or town. In addition, unattended trenches must be secured with a 6-foot high fence or covered by a steel plate.

This regulation is the result of “Jackie’s Law”. Jackie Moore was a four-year-old girl from East Bridgewater that fell into an unprotected trench and died when it collapsed in 1999. Since then, Massachusetts lawmakers have been working on a law that would prevent similar accidents and the final law, MGL c. 82A, was passed in Nov. 2007.

In order to apply for the permit, we will need to provide the controlling entity with a Dig Safe number, the name of the competent person in charge, and other information as required. There also might be a fee associated with the permit application.

This law does not affect the OSHA regulations pertaining to trenching operations; it is designed to protect the General Public. We will still be required to operate in accordance with OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1926, Subpart P. Just a reminder, when dealing with trenching operations, the basic numbers that need to be remembered are:

2 – Spoils must be kept 2 feet back from the edge of an excavation.
4 – Excavations of 4 feet or more require a ladder.
5 – Excavations of 5 feet or more require sloping, shoring, or benching.
20 – Sloped/Benched Excavations of 20 ft or more must be designed by a P.E.
25 – Ladders/Ramps must be provided every 25 lateral feet in an excavation.