The shovel is a special tool appearing in the level Unearthly Excavation.
Unlike other tools such as the mop or sniffer, the shovel is not immediately given to the player upon starting the level. Instead it must be found as an object, much like the laser welder or broom. However unlike the laser welder, when picked up with the hands, the shovel will become a part of the player's inventory, occupying the fourth slot for the entire duration of that level, unless the player is to die or otherwise restart the level in some way. Any shovel picked up after the first shovel has been claimed will simply behave as a normal object. The shovel can be brought to the Office with the Janitor's Trunk.To use the shovel, the player must equip it and take aim at any patch of sand on the ground which isn't directly below the player. To pick up the sand, the player must use the primary trigger (left-click by default). To drop the sand, the player may use either the primary trigger again to toss it lightly, or the secondary trigger (right-click by default) to throw it slightly further away. Using the secondary trigger with the shovel without holding any sand will cause the player to hit the area in front of them and push any nearby objects, much like the mop or broom. If the player aims a shovel filled with sand directly at the ground beneath themselves, the sand will immediately fall out of the shovel and onto the ground.
When the player drops sand, it will form a small pile on the ground. If more sand is added, the pile will continue to grow in size. This method is the only way to neutralize the pit monster, which is the primary purpose of the shovel within the level. The player must toss sand inside the pit monster's "mouth" until the creature is entirely buried and stops moving or making gurgling noises. At this point it is no longer a hazard to the player, and safe for the player to walk over the filled pit. Note that the player can also use the shovel to remove sand from a filled pit monster. This will "wake up" the creature, and if enough sand is removed, eventually it will be able to swallow objects (and the player) once again.
The players can remove placed sand with either the shovel or the mop. Attempting to remove sand with the mop will eventually dirty the mop, so this is not recommended. It should be noted that sand cannot be taken from or placed on areas covered with mess decals such as blood or soot. However, sand placed with the shovel can itself become covered in various splatters. Sand placed anywhere on top of an object will simply fall through the object, creating a pile beneath it and pushing up the object. If the object cannot be moved, the sand will still fall to the ground, but the top of the object will be seen clipping through the sand pile.
The Shovel can be used to detonate Mining Explosives by hitting them.
A vendor has a small chance of giving an advertisement for the several items and objects, including the shovel, similarly to the Slosh-O-Matic when it is to dispense human remains. Reading the advertisement, it is revealed that the shovel's model name is the X5 Space-Shovel, the company manufacturing the shovel is known as Morpheus Industries, and that the shovel was to cost 39.99 Vaders (probably a form of currency in Viscera Cleanup Detail) among other information. The advertisement reads as follows:
The Ultimate Workman's shovel!
The new Space-Shovel is everything a planetary workforce needs.
Along with our classic handle, we've added extra strength to the shovel head.
Perfect for whatever you're shoveling, the X5 Space Shovel is the right fit for you!
Now available for the low low price of *39.99 Vaders!"