Barricades and Barriers

Barricades are particularly effective when it comes to protecting workers from fall hazards that are on the ground. It is easy to overlook serious fall hazards simply because they are not elevated; however, excavations and potholes can pose a serious fall risk. Failure to properly secure these working environments can lead to devastating consequences.

Excavation Collapse and Fall Protection Systems

Working in or around excavations is dangerous work. OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1926.605(b) defines an excavation as “any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in an earth surface, formed by earth removal.” These work environments can be hazardous for many reasons including the risk of:

  • Cave-ins and mudslides
  • Falling debris or tools
  • Excavation wall collapse
  • trench collapse
  • stairway collapse
  • flooding

Does OSHA Require Fall Protection Around Excavations or Trenches?

OSHA does not require fall protection to be provided around excavations or trenches unless the excavations are at least 6 feet deep. 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(7) provides: “Each employee at the edge of an excavation 6 feet (1.8m) or more in-depth shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, fences, or barricades when the excavations are not readily seen because of plant growth or other visual barriers.”

Barricades are a safe, easy, and effective way to ensure personnel working around the top of excavations and trenches are always protected.

Are Barricades Around Manholes Required?

Open manholes along busy streets and sidewalks can pose a hazard to pedestrians and unsuspecting cyclists if they are not adequately protected. Anytime a manhole cover is removed while workers are working below, there should be barricades and/or adequate warning signs to make the public aware of the fall risk. Failure to provide adequate warning is negligence on the part of the workers.

In many cases involving uncovered manholes, the workers involved may be city employees. While sovereign immunity often poses a problem in premise liability claims against a city, when the workers are present, sovereign immunity does not pose the same problem. The removal of the manhole cover to perform work below creates actual knowledge of a dangerous condition since they created it themselves. However, you still have to follow the notice requirements that apply to the government agency involved. In the case of a city, many cities require proper notice to be given within the first 30 days.

What Types of Barricades Are There?


There are many types of barricades commonly used for roadway construction work:

  • A-Frame Barricades. These are characterized by a single, double-sided reflective barricade board. Often, A-frame barricades are used to ensure a safe distance is kept between workers and hazards in the work environment.
  • Type I Barricades. These are barricades with one reflective railing which typically have white and orange stripes. They are commonly used for traffic control on low-speed roads and blocking small hazards around or near a worksite.
  • Type II Barricades. These barricades differ from Type I barricades because they have two reflective railings. This makes them more visible at night and they are commonly used on expressways and other high-speed roads.
  • Type III Barricades. Type III barricades are at least 4-feet wide and consist of three reflective railings. They are commonly positioned across roadways and other large areas where potential hazards can be found.
  • Traffic Barrels. Also referred to as channelizer drums, these barricades are usually orange cylindrical bins with white and orange reflective bands. They are easy to maneuver and work well for blocking individual road and fall hazards.

Contact an Attorney Who Understands Excavation Safety

If you or a loved one has been injured in a fall while working in this kind of environment, contact Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., today. Our experienced, on the job accident attorneys, understand how difficult it is to identify negligence in accidents like this, and have been helping work injury victims seek recovery since 1979. Give us a call at (713) 932-0777 to learn more about your claim and schedule a free consultation.