Excavation Checklist for Obtaining SOE Permit

Excavation work is essentially risky, posing potential threats to workers, nearby structures, and the adjacent environment. To get rid of these dangers, Support of Excavation (SOE) permits play a considerable role in ensuring safety and stability of excavation projects. The building permits act as enforceable safeguards, mandating specific protocols and engineering practices that address excavation hazards. By requiring a thorough assessment and implementation of appropriate support systems, SOE permits help prevent: 

  • Cave-ins: Unreinforced trenches and slopes can collapse, burying workers and equipment. The SOE permit expedition prevents that by ensuring trench stability. 
  • Utility line strikes: Damaging underground utilities can lead to serious accidents and disruptions. SOE permits require locating and protecting utility lines before excavation begins. 
  • Accidents from falling objects: Debris or materials from unstable slopes can pose a danger to workers below. SOE permits mandate proper spoil handling and protection measures. 
  • Environmental damage: Improper excavation practices can lead to soil erosion, sedimentation, and other environmental harms. SOE permits often include stipulations for environmental protection measures. 

Effectiveness of SOE permits in preventing hazards backed by statistics: 

Implementing the measures mandated by SOE permits can significantly reduce risks. Take a look at the table: 

Statistics on the Impact of Support of Excavation (SOE) Permits




4 times higher accident rate in trenches without proper shoring and sloping 

NIOSH study 

Reduced accident rates through proper SOE practices 

33% reduction in trenching fatalities between 2003 and 2019 

Construction Safety Coalition 

Potential link to increased SOE use and improved safety 

2.5 times more likely injuries and fatalities in trenches without proper support systems 

NIOSH study 

Fewer injuries and fatalities due to SOE-mandated safeguards 

Estimated $171 billion annual cost of construction site accidents 


Potential cost savings associated with SOE-driven safety improvements 

Environmental protection measures often mandated in SOE permits 

EPA studies 

Reduced risk of soil erosion, sedimentation, and other environmental damage 

What is Support of Excavation (SOE)?

Support of Excavation (SOE) is a provisional earth retaining system planned to control the ground for enabling a safe and effective space for the construction. In certain cases, the SOE System can act as permanent structural support.

Excavation Checklist that Supports Obtaining SOE Permit

Now, let’s take a look at the Excavation Checklist that supports obtaining SOE Permit.

To get your SOE permit approval, you must pay heed to the excavation checklist that includes General Job site Inspection, Utilities, Access & Egress, Wet Conditions, Hazardous Atmosphere, and Support System.

General Job site Inspection for SOE Permit Approval:

  • Excavations, adjacent areas protective systems inspected by a capable person every day before the onset of work
  • A competent person who can decide to remove employees from excavation instantly
  • Removal/Support of Surface Impediments
  • Employees threatened from loose rock or soil, posing a menace by falling or rolling into the excavation
  • Hard hats are worn by employees
  • Materials & equipment set back within 2 feet from the verge of the excavation
  • Obstacles provided at remotely located excavations, wells, shafts & pits
  • Walkways & bridges over excavations, which are 4 feet or more in-depth are fortified with typical guardrails & toe boards
  • Warning vests or highly visible clothing provided & worn by employees exposed to public vehicular traffic
  • Employees need to maintain distance from vehicles being loaded or unloaded
  • Warning system established & utilized while mobile equipment is functioning close to the verge of the excavation
  • Employees proscribed from going under suspended loads & prohibited from working on the facets of inclined or benched excavations above other employees

Utilities for SOE Permit:

  • Utility companies communicated and the location of utilities
  • The specific location of the marked utilities
  • Underground installations that are protected, supported, or removed while excavation is open

Access & Egress:

  • Lateral travel to means of egress not more than 25 feet in excavations 4 feet in depth
  • Structural ramps used by employees designed by a competent person
  • Structural ramps used for equipment designed by a registered professional engineer
  • Employees shied from collapses while entering or departing the excavation

Site Location:

  • Date, Time & the Persons Managing the Site
  • Soil Classification with the Depth & Width of Excavation
  • Kind of Protective System Used

Wet Conditions:

  • Precautions for protecting employees from water accumulation
  • Water removal equipment monitored by a competent person
  • Surface water/runoff diverted or controlled to prevent accumulation in the excavation
  • Inspections made after every rainstorm or other hazard increasing occurrence

Checking the Hazardous Atmosphere for SOE Permit:

  • Testing the Atmosphere within the excavation where there is a probability of an oxygen shortage, inflammable or other detrimental contaminant revealing employees to a hazard
  • Adequate precautions for protecting employees exposure an atmosphere encompassing less than 19.5% oxygen other hazardous atmospheres
  • Providing ventilation to prevent employees exposure to an atmosphere containing flammable gas over 10% of the lower explosive limit of the gas
  • Testing conducted to ensure the safety of the atmosphere
  • Emergency equipment like breathing apparatus, safety harness and lifeline and basket stretcher where hazardous atmospheres exist
  • Training employees to use personal protective & other rescue equipment
  • Safety harness lifeline while entering deep confined excavations

Support Systems for Acquiring SOE Permit

  • Materials & equipment for support systems based on soil analysis, trench depth & expected loads
  • Inspecting materials & equipment used for protective systems to see whether they are in good condition
  • Removing materials & equipment if they are not in good conditions
  • Damaged materials equipment used protective systems to be inspected by a registered professional engineer after repairs before placing back into service
  • Installation of protective systems without uncovering staffs to the dangers of collapses or risk of getting obstructed by materials/equipment
  • Members of support system securely attached to prevent failure
  • Ensure that the support systems provide stability to the nearby structures, road & walls
  • Checking the back filling progress with removal of the support system
  • Material excavation to a level not more than 2 feet beneath the bottom of support system only if system is intended to support loads calculated for full depth
  • Placing the shield system to prevent lateral movement

Final Thought: 

Acquiring and adhering to SOE permits are essential for prioritizing safety in excavation projects. These permits set up a framework for risk assessment, planning, and implementation of control measures, reducing the chances of accidents, injuries, and environmental damage. By prioritizing safety through SOE permits, we can create a safer and more sustainable construction industry for everyone.

If you are stuck with your DCRA building permit in Washington DC, seek a permit expediting service provider for managing building permit applications for new construction and renovation. Tejjy Inc. facilitates affordable permit expediting solution in USA without any delay.

To get your permit approval, contact Tejjy Inc. at 202-465-4830 or info@tejjy.com.