Trench Boxes Save Lives! Stay Safe and Order One Today.

Think Safety Banner: Trench Boxes Save LivesTrench boxes are an essential piece of equipment for increasing job site safety. If used properly they will prevent injury and save lives in the event of a trench collapse. Purchasing the best aluminum trench box or steel trench box is a good place to start.

In fact they are a key component to an excavation job site safety plan. Every year construction workers are tragically either injured or killed in a trench collapse due to lack of use or lack of proper use of a trench protection system. Federal regulation has been enacted to encourage their proper use and help ensure the safety of those working underground in a trench. For example, they are required by OSHA for excavations 5 feet deep and greater. They’re also required when a competent person identifies the need for protection in an excavation less than 5 feet. Additionally, all trench boxes must be designed by a certified professional engineer to meet OSHA regulations. These systems are rated for use in various soil classifications, A, B, and C type soils. These ratings will be found on the Trench Box Certification Sheet.

Trench Box Construction and Application

A trench box can be constructed of either aluminum or steel. The choice between the two often depends on the type of work being done, the size of the excavator, and even the mode of transporting it to a job site. For example, the aluminum trench boxes are often designed to be modular and easily transported in the bed of a pickup truck. Typically larger excavations for main water, sewer and gas lines will require the use of a larger excavator and a steel trench shield. For smaller excavations like spot repairs and taps an aluminum trench shield is typically the best choice. However, we do offer a very affordable and lightweight steel option in our Basic 3 series that is also a very popular choice as it can be used with a rubber tire back hoe or mini-excavator.

Purchasing a Trench Box

The cost of an injury or the tragedy of the loss of a life is far greater than the investment in a trench box to protect your-self and your workers.  In addition to striving to keep our prices affordable we also offer financing to make this investment in safety easier for our customers. You will find a wide selection of both aluminum and steel trench boxes on our site, ranging from a small 4×4 modular aluminum system to a larger 10×30 steel trench box.

Please call 336-516-8011 if you have any questions or if you would like a quote.

Steel Trench Boxes

Trench Box: Steel Titan model trench box, sold by IronLot. Manufacture Kundel Industries. Color construction orange.

Titan Series

Steel Trench Boxes

Our steel trench boxes are available in multiple sizes for a variety of applications. For small spot repairs, taps, and light utility work we offer the Basic Series ranging in size from 4x4 to 7.5x10. For larger utility jobs we offer the Titan Utility Series for boxes up to 14' long. Next for mainline work, we offer our Titan Series including trench boxes that are 16' long and longer.

Aluminum Trench Boxes

Trench Box: Kundel ShoreLite Lite Aluminum Trench Box. Sold by Iron Lot. Single wall stackable aluminum trench box.

ShoreLite Series

Aluminum Trench Boxes

Our aluminum trench box is ideal for spot repairs and taps. The ShoreLite Series is lightweight and easily transported.  We have several models that can even be transported in the bed of a pickup truck. For example, the ShoreLite Lite 6x6 comes in stackable 3' tall aluminum panels, making this ideal for easy assembly and transport. We also offer the exclusive V-Panel aluminum trench box with vertically adjustable panels, making working around crossing utilities much easier. These aluminum systems are perfect for municipalities, plumbers, and small excavation contractors.

How To Choose The Correct Trench Box

A common starting point for many contractors when choosing a trench box purchase is to simply look for the same system or something similar as to what they had been renting. This can present a few challenges as each manufacture offers unique configurations in their designs. These designs and specifications are not always easy to directly compare from one manufacture to the next. Sometimes it really is like comparing apples to oranges. For example a shield with common 4" double wall from our one of our competitors will likely be heavier than our 5" double wall Titan 5 Lite Series. This can lead to some initial confusion, however it is quickly resolved when we start with the proper requirements. Often this will lead to finding a more appropriately sized system at a better price.

A good place to start is determining depth of the excavation and if any sloping will be used. This will dictate the required depth rating along with determining if there will be a need to stack trench boxes. This first requirement has obvious safety and OSHA compliance implications. However, it is also a key determining factor in the cost of the system.

For example: A trench box that is rated for 24' in class C soil is going to be heavier and cost more to build than one with a lower depth rating. For example our Titan 5 Lite 8x20 is a perfect choice for a contractor that is not going to be using this as a bottom box in a deep excavation. The Titan 5 Lite 8x20 shield has a depth rating of 12' in class C soil. This gives is the flexibility to use with a 4x20 stacker or just as a single 8x20. While the Titan 5 Lite has a knife edge, it can also be flipped over and used as a top box as part of a multiple box system, if there ever was a need to go beyond its 12' rating.

An additional consideration is the option to add a two foot leg kit to some of our steel and aluminum systems. This will allow the user to be two feet off the bottom of the trench and thus increase the working depth.

Next it is important to consider the total length of shielding required to both be safe and efficient. The common recommendation is two to four feet of shielding extending beyond the edge of the pipe or where anyone will be working. Using too short of a system can quickly become dangerous, while using a system that is longer than needed will increase the time and cost of opening the excavation.

Additionally it is important to consider the total working width needed will determine the required spreader size. The recommended width should be at least 12 inches wider than the diameter of pipe. Some applications and preferences might require greater than an increase of 12 inches from the diameter of the pipe. For example working with 6 inch pipe and adding 12 inches would require a 24 inch spreader. This might not be enough room for some crews to work efficiently. An alternative to a fixed width spreader bar system is utilizing spreader adjusters. We offer both 2 foot and 4 foot adjusters that adjust in 6 inch increments.

Another important consideration when choosing a trench box is its weight and the lifting capacity of the excavator. The best place to start is to consult the manufacture specifications and load chart for your excavator. The load chart is a valuable resource as it indicates the lifting capacity at various positions. If a load chart is not available, a general rule of thumb would be the machine will lift 20% to 25% of the weight of the machine. You can read a good article titled When Excavators and Backhoes Become Cranes over at

A Few Examples Using This Rule of Thumb:

Mini Excavators
A Cat 303 with a weight of 8,209 lbs should be able to lift between 1,641 lbs and 2,052 lbs.

Mid Size Excavators
A Cat 308 with a weight of 18,512 lbs should be able to lift between 3,702 lbs and 4,628 lbs.

Standard or Full Size Excavators
A Cat 311 with a weight of 28,660 lbs should be able to lift between 5,732 lbs and 7,165 lbs.
A Cat 318 with a weight of 42,340 lbs should be able to lift between 8,468 lbs and 10,585 lbs.
A Cat 320 with a weight of 49,600 lbs should be able to lift between 9,920 lbs and 12,400 lbs.
A Cat 308 with a weight of 69,950 lbs should be able to lift between 13,990 lbs and 17,487 lbs.

The above example of applying these ranges for determining the lifting capacity of an excavator can be helpful. However, it also demonstrates the wisdom of consulting the manufactures load chart especially for the larger excavators as the range can vary significantly.

Failure to use a trench box can result in both injury and death.

The need to protect underground workers is a concern of OSHA, and should be a concern of all conscientious excavation companies. A cubic yard of dirt can weigh as much as a car. Knowing this, it is easy to understand the deadly potential of even a small trench collapse. Each year approximately 40 people die in a trench collapse. With the proper use of trench boxes and where appropriate trench shoring this number could be reduced to zero.

When should a trench box be used?

OSHA Requirements for Using a Trench Box

OSHA sets the requirement for using a protective system to include trench boxes or trench shoring in an excavation at 5 feet deep or greater. This is unless the area of excavation is entirely made of stable rock. Frankly, the stable rock exception is rare in most areas of the country. These requirements have become known as the 5 foot rule, which can be misleading.

The confusion is due to the often overlooked requirement for excavations under five feet deep. Concerning excavations under five feet OSHA clearly states, a competent person may determine that a protective system is not required.

While following this guideline is keeping within the letter of the law, it may not be the best practice. Serious injury can occur in an excavation much less than five feet. One cubic yard of dirt can way 2,000 lbs. Under the right circumstance even a 3’ trench can quickly become deadly.

Iron Lot has you covered with the right trench box for the job!

Iron Lot has aluminum trench boxes starting at 3×5 and 4×4. These can be used as either two, three or four sided systems. For smaller excavations, adjustable spreaders from 24-42 inches, or 30-54 inches are often a good choice. Likewise we offer our steel trench boxes starting at just 4x4, allowing you to stay safe, even on smaller jobs. For larger jobs, we also offer a wide range of options.

As an alternative to using a trench box, we offer hydraulic aluminum shoring. The Trench-Shore provides flexibility in configuration. For example, when used with Finn-Form Boards, the 4×8 board can be used as is, or cut into a custom size like a 4×4 for smaller excavations.

What are the risk and cost of not using a trench box?

Not using a trench box can be costly

Not following the requirements for using a trench box or trench shoring can be costly. Every year a number of workers needlessly either lose their lives or are seriously injured in a trench collapse. As stated previously, one cubic yard of dirt can weigh 2,000 lbs. Even a partial collapse in a shallow trench can cause debilitating injuries. The resulting legal liability to the construction company can quickly add up.

OSHA fines for not using proper shoring or trench boxes are often exceed the cost of purchasing a trench box. Fines for a willful violation can surpass $100,000. When injury or death occur due to a lack of using a trench box or trench shoring, the resulting expenses can easily force a contractor out of business. It is far more prudent to plan ahead and insure you and your crew is properly protected.

Each story of a worker being killed in a trench collapse is heartbreaking. Perhaps some of the saddest are from family owned and operated companies. They seem to think since they have no employees they do not need to follow OSHA standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone going down in a trench deserves to be protected.

Whether you buy a trench box from us, or purchase or rent from another firm, please make sure you have done everything you can so everyone is able to go home safe at the end of the day.