Spoil piles are excavated materials consisting of topsoil or subsoils that have been removed and temporarily stored during the construction activity. [Source]
Spoil piles are also sometimes referred to as Soil Piles, Stock Piles, or Storage Piles.
There are generally two types of excavation spoil:
- Temporary Spoil
- Permanent Spoil
The differences are pretty straightforward, but in general temporary spoil remains close to the excavation site and permanent spoil is removed away from the excavation. Because of this, OSHA provides different guidelines for safety during trenching and excavation.
Temporary spoil must be placed no closer than 2 ft (0.61 m) from the surface edge of the excavation, measured from the nearest base of the spoil to the cut.
This distance should not be measured from the crown of the spoil deposit. This distance requirement ensures that loose rock or soil from the temporary spoil will not fall on employees in the trench.
Spoil should be placed so that it channels rainwater and other run-off water away from the excavation. Spoil should be placed so that it cannot accidentally run, slide, or fall back into the excavation.
Permanent spoil should be placed at some distance from the excavation. Permanent spoil is often created where underpasses are built or utilities are buried.
The improper placement of permanent spoil, i.e. insufficient distance from the working excavation, can cause an excavation to be out of compliance with the horizontal-to-vertical ratio requirement for a particular excavation. This can usually be determined through visual observation.
Permanent spoil can change undisturbed soil to disturbed soil and dramatically alter slope requirements.
For more information, see OSHA’s Excavations: Hazard Recognition in Trenching and Shoring resource.
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