All Contractors with permits to conduct earthwork (excavation) must notify the Department before work may begin. Contractors must give the Department 24 to 48 hour notice before beginning excavation, rock blasting, or rock chipping. To notify the Excavation Unit, call (212) 393-2550.

Failure to Notify

The Department will issue violations for Failure to Notify when Contractors do not alert the Agency of excavations operations. If the work violates any applicable laws, rules, or regulations, the Commissioner may issue a Stop Work Order for three days or longer.


Permits are required for most work, including underpinning. The work must meet the approved plans.

General Safety for Excavations & Trenches

Proper engineering and oversight is necessary at an excavation or trench to protect workers, passersby, and neighboring properties.

Proper precautions may include having:
  • Sheeting, shoring and bracing
  • Sloping / 45-degree angle of repose
  • Guardrails
  • Solid enclosures
  • Egress, such as ladders or ramps

Proper precautions may also include:
  • Regularly checking walls for cracks, bulges, and spalling
  • Inspecting shoring for signs of distress
  • Examining slopes after a rainstorm
  • Only working where the proper protections are in place
  • Not working when there is running or standing water
  • Never storing soil, material, or equipment near the edge
  • Not driving or parking vehicles near the edge

New York City Building Code §3304 and OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1926 Subpart P provide more information on safety requirements for excavations and trenches.


Contractors must notify the Department in advance if the excavation is cancelled. Cancellation notification must be given within 24 hours of the scheduled earthwork and before the work begins.


The Department will conduct random on-site excavations audits to inspect:

• Excavation Depth 
• Forms Bracing
• Pumping Operations • Underpinning
• Pile Driving Operations • Ground Water
• Sheeting/Shoring/Bracing • Work as per Plan
• Angle of Repose • Evidence of Control Inspection
• Movement Monitoring • Pre-Construction Surveys

Department site monitoring does not relieve engineers and contractors of their professional responsibilities.

Fire Department of New York (FDNY)

The Fire Department of New York regulates all blasting operations and requires permits. Visit FDNY for more information.


Call 811 before you begin digging to notify the utility company.

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