Sloping and Benching

The Theory of Sloping and Benching

Sloping (sloping system) means a method of protecting employees from cave-ins by excavating to form sides of an excavation that are inclined away from the excavation to prevent cave-ins.  The angle of incline required to prevent a cave-in varies with differences in such factors as the soil type, environmental conditions of exposure, and application of surcharge loads.

Actual slope means the slope to which an excavation face is excavated.

Distress means that the soil is in a condition where a cave-in is imminent or is likely to occur. Distress is evidenced by such phenomena as the development of fissures in the face of or adjacent to an open excavation; the subsidence of the edge of an excavation; the slumping of material from the face or the bulging or heaving of material from the bottom of an excavation; the spalling of material from the face of an excavation; and raveling, i.e., small amounts of material such as pebbles or little clumps of material suddenly separating from the face of an excavation and trickling or rolling down into the excavation.

The trench is sloped on both sides. The safe angle to slope the sides of an excavation varies with different kinds of soil and must be determined on each individual project. When an excavation has a high water table condition, silty material or loose boulders, or when it is being dug in areas where erosion, deep frost or sliding is apparent, the safe angle is more gradual (that is, flatter)

Maximum allowable slope means the steepest incline of an excavation face that is acceptable for the most favorable site conditions as protection against cave-ins, and is expressed as the ratio of horizontal distance to vertical rise (H:V).

Short term exposure means a period of time less than or equal to 24 hours that an excavation is open.

(c) Requirements — (1) Soil classification. Soil and rock deposits shall be classified in accordance with appendix A to subpart P of part 1926.

(2) Maximum allowable slope. The maximum allowable slope for a soil or rock deposit shall be determined from Table B-1 of this appendix.

(3) Actual slope. (i) The actual slope shall not be steeper than the maximum allowable slope.

(ii) The actual slope shall be less steep than the maximum allowable slope, when there are signs of distress. If that situation occurs, the slope shall be cut back to an actual slope which is at least ½ horizontal to one vertical (½H:1V) less steep than the maximum allowable slope.

(iii) When surcharge loads from stored material or equipment, operating equipment, or traffic are present, a competent person shall determine the degree to which the actual slope must be reduced below the maximum allowable slope, and shall assure that such reduction is achieved. Surcharge loads from adjacent structures shall be evaluated in accordance with § 1926.651(i).

Class A Soil
Class B Soil
Class C