Contractors are required to dig safely at all times to protect underground critical facilities by following requirements outlined in the Protection of Underground Facilities Act (16 NYCRR Part 753), also known as Code 753. Under New York State law, contractors are required to “Call Before You Dig” through New York 811 (1-800-272-4480 or 811).
During periods of extreme temperatures or high system demands, the continuity of underground critical facilities that supply electric, gas, steam, water, and telecommunications becomes vital to maintaining a high level of public safety and quality of life.
Based on weather conditions, the City will issue an Excavation Safety Alert to heighten awareness of safe excavation practices and provide additional guidance to contractors that is above and beyond what is outlined in Code 753 for facilities that are deemed critical.
If an Excavation Safety Alert is issued, contractors are strongly encouraged to implement the enhanced protective measures listed below for critical facilities, such as primary electric feeders, oil filled electric facilities, gas transmission mains, stream transmission mains, and telecommunications switching stations.
Suggested Actions During an Excavation Safety Alert
Enhanced Protective Actions
• Cease all activity involving excavation within eight feet from
the outside edge of the facility trench to the marked critical
• Excavation activity may resume around critical facilities only if
the contractor digs by hand and uncovers the critical facility.
Once the location and extent of the critical facility is visually
confirmed, excavation may resume utilizing powered
equipment to within four feet of the edge of the critical
• Other restricted activities in the presence of critical facilities
include, but are not limited to, backfilling and tamping and
installing piping under critical facility crossings. When these
activities are necessitated by schedule or work area
restrictions/stipulations, the contractor may proceed with
• Utilize an excavator observer or “pit man” to the assist the
equipment operator when operating excavation equipment
General Protective Activities
• Call Before You Dig: New York 811 (1-800-272-4480 or 811)
• Wait the required time
• Confirm utility response
• Respect the markings
Dig with care: take all reasonable steps necessary to avoid damage to and/or interference with underground facilities
Excavation Safety Alert Information Sources
New York 811
1-800-272-4480 or 811
New York City Emergency Management