It’s bound to happen. If you operate in the business world, disputes will arise at some point or another. However, these days people are less likely to challenge you to take up arms to settle the matter and much more likely to take you to court. In fact, almost every contractor will end up in court at some point, whether it’s due to an employee getting injured on the job or a breach of contract with a client.
The threat of litigation is one of the potential risks you take on when you enter the construction business, and it’s a nightmare. It takes up your time, it costs you money, and it can even tarnish your reputation—and no one needs that. So one of the things you have to understand is that while you may be in the construction industry, you’re also in the risk management business.
Risk Management in Construction
The construction business is inherently risky. There are plenty of things that make it that way, from the need to work in tight time frames, to dangerous working conditions, to unsatisfied customers. Because it’s so risky, sometimes when things happen, we can be quick to respond with a shrug, say “It happens,” and move on. But taking the time to manage risk, no matter how common it may be, can vastly reduce your likelihood of ending up in a construction dispute or, worse, dealing with construction litigation.
There are several things you can do to manage risk in construction. Among the first is to conduct a risk assessment. Have your project managers take note of where there is potential for injury or even construction defects on your construction projects. Risk identification is so crucial, in fact, that you should have your entire team work together to identify what’s happening right now at your job site, what problems you’re currently having, and what can be done to improve your processes. Ensure that all OSHA regulations are being met and that team members are using required personal protective equipment.
Finally, remember that once you have identified possible risks and have come up with a plan to mitigate these risks, the people on your team should actually follow through with this plan. Fortunately, there are things you can do to monitor and control your job site— even remotely. A tool like the busybusy app has useful features that allow you to snap job site photos in real-time. With photos, you can have visual evidence that safety measures are being followed and the plan you’ve put in place is being followed, thus ensuring better communication. (As a bonus, you can save the photos as proof these safety measures are being followed – or not followed – in case you ever need it later).
What Happens When You Need to Play Defense?
Even if you do everything in your power to mitigate risks, you can still get sued—that’s life. Construction litigation can occur for a number of reasons. Some of the most common include problems with the quality of construction, construction delays, issues with nonpayment, and, of course, injuries. So what do you do before, during, and after a lawsuit to protect yourself and your team?
First, those OSHA regulations we mentioned earlier? Be sure you know what they are, that your current team members know what they are, and new construction team members know what they are. A little reminder now and then never hurt anyone, either. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration isn’t here to play games, and they don’t tend to let people off with a stern warning to “do better next time.”
Next, be sure you’re keeping track of everything that’s happening at the job site. As already mentioned, the busybusy app is great for helping you document job site photos and equipment usage. As a time tracking app, it can offer you daily reports that can provide you a detailed overview of the way time is being spent. This can, in turn, be used to resolve issues related to construction delays or other disputes about the terms and conditions in your construction contract.
It almost goes without saying that you should always have a solid construction contract agreement in place. Knowing the time it has taken to complete previous similar projects, issues that have arisen on similar projects, and likely budget requirements can all help you ensure you’re able to come up with a contract that’s far less likely to end up with you wasting your time in court.
A lot can happen when you’re in the construction industry. Those guys in General Industry think they have a lot to keep track of when it comes to Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. But they don’t have anything on the OSHA regulations for those of us in construction.
The busybusy app can help you out in plenty of ways. Risk management in construction comes down to having a well-documented project so, on the off chance that you do end up in court, you have proof of what was happening from Day 1 on the job. If you’d like to ask questions about what you’ve read here or to learn more about how busybusy can help you, contact us today!