10 Safety Tips for General Contractors

Construction worker wearing protective helmet

Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.

October 9, 2018
Eric Weisbrot – JW Surety Bonds

The construction industry continues to grow each year, paving the way for general contractors to make a profitable, sustainable living when the job is done right. However, to do so effectively, safety standards need to be met with consistency and focus on each worksite. General contractors who are licensed and bonded must take proactive steps to avoid potentially fatal injuries among their subcontractors and employees, even though this may be easier said than done. To create and maintain a safe worksite each and every time, general contractors should consider how to implement the following best practices and safety tips on the job.

1 – Know the Risks
The most crucial step toward maintaining a safe construction site is to first be aware of the risks involved. Each year, thousands of construction workers experience injuries on the job, and some ultimately lose their life because of safety missteps at work. As a general contractor, it is your responsibility to know that construction risks run rampant given the nature of the work. Being tuned into the potential for falls, slips, and other common safety-related incidents is a necessary part of operating a safe worksite for you and your employees.

2 – Require Protective Gear
An often overlooked safety precaution on construction sites is the use of up-to-date and well-maintained protective gear. For many subcontractors and employees, it is easy to skip this necessary step in safeguarding themselves from potential safety issues. However, general contractors can take steps to make protective gear a requirement on the job. This may include mandating hardhats and steel-toed shoes, gloves, and eyewear when appropriate. All visitors and workers on a construction site should follow protective gear instructions to avoid unnecessary safety risks.

3 – Educate on Ladder Safety
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ladder injuries account for a significant number of construction worker incidents each year, making up more than 200,000 accidents on average. Ladders have continuously ranked high on OSHA’s list of violations at construction sites because the prevalence of injuries is so high. General contractors can help thwart ladder-related injuries among workers by promoting ladder safety training, including reminders about the right ladder to use for each task. Workers should also be well aware of the importance of inspection before use, and they should always follow the three points of contact rule when going up or down a ladder.

4 – Recognize Equipment Pitfalls
Many construction workers experience injuries relating to equipment used on the job. This could be tied to getting on or off equipment, or loading and unloading materials from machinery. In any case, general contractors can encourage simple tactics to improve equipment safety measures. Paying close attention to secure footing while getting on or off a machine, having more than one person assist with loading and unloading, and ensuring everyone feels comfortable asking for help with these tasks reduces safety risks.

5 – Document Potential Hazards
A general contractor’s main responsibility is to manage the construction site efficiently from start to finish. Part of this duty is recognizing the possible issues on a worksite that may lead to accidents or injuries if not addressed at the beginning of a project. It is necessary to take the time to identify safety risks such as unstable working surfaces, dangerous trenches, or weather-related concerns that may impact the safety of subcontractors, suppliers, or other site visitors. Potential hazards should be documented and shared with site workers, and they should be updated as the project progresses.

6 – Maintain Equipment and Tools
Poorly maintained equipment and tools also cause issues on construction sites. The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association suggests that general contractors remind workers to inspect tools, machines, handheld equipment, and vehicles before each use to ensure they are properly maintained. Additionally, understanding the maintenance standards for certain tools or equipment and following those guidelines is crucial to reducing injury on the job.

7 – Minimize Crowds
Crowded work areas can be a serious safety issue for general contractors, subcontractors, and vendors and suppliers on site. It is common for crowds to gather during the use of heavy equipment or when a significant task is being completed. However, general contractors should discourage crowd-forming for spectating purposes. This can be done by limiting the number of people allowed to be in an area when certain activities are taking place, and enforcing these rules at every possible opportunity.

8 – Hire Licensed Subcontractors
General contractors may have full- or part-time employees as part of their business model, or there may be a heavy presence of subcontractors not directly tied to the main business. In either case, it is essential to have faith in the capabilities of workers, including their willingness and commitment to follow safety standards. General contractors can help ensure each worker is more likely to take safety seriously when they hire licensed contractors who follow through with licensing requirements as mandated by the state or city.

9 – Focus on Training
Even after vetting subcontractors and employees based on their licensing status, general contractors also need to ensure training and education are a priority. Several online and in-person courses focus on construction safety training which workers should be encouraged to attend. Safety education programs from OSHA and other reputable sources are crucial to decreasing accidents on the job.

10 – Be Present
Finally, general contractors can only have an impact on the safety of the job site when they are purposefully present. It is common for some GCs to stop by a project when they are needed or to check on progress periodically. However, new safety hazards, lacking worker training, and other risks are not easily fixed when the general contractor is not consistently on site. Reducing the potential for falls, slips, trips, and fatalities on the job requires communication with workers, and that takes place most effectively when general contractors are in person.

Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.


Environmental Law Violations: When you Should Hire a Lawyer

Leaves after rain green

Bremer and Whyte's article sheds some light on the complex nature of environmental law litigation, and highlights the importance of securing legal representation with the scope and breadth of practice to wade into an environmental law violation case.

October 9, 2018
Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara

Environmental law violations can have an enormous impact on your ongoing profitability. Environmental law is complicated and multifaceted, with laws at the local, state, and federal level often overlapping. In this article, we’ll discuss environmental law violations in the context of defending against an environmental law claim. In doing so, we’ll take a brief look at what environmental law is, and explore some environmental law violations cases. This should shed some light on the complex nature of environmental law litigation, and highlight the importance of securing legal representation with the scope and breadth of practice to wade into an environmental law violation case.

What is Environmental Law?
Before diving into specific environmental law violation cases, it is helpful to first provide a basic outline of what environmental law is and what different levels of environmental law exist in the United States. The most well-known environmental law exists at the federal level and is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is responsible for enforcing directives that have been set forth by Congress over time. These include a variety of Acts, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.


Florida Court of Appeals Rejects Insurer’s Attempt to Intervene in Underlying Lawsuit to Submit Special Interrogatories

Rejected stamp

The Florida Court of Appeals for the 2nd District upheld a trial court’s dismissal of an insurance company’s intervention in a tort lawsuit brought against its insured for the purposes of submitting special interrogatories and verdict forms.

October 9, 2018
Jeremy Macklin - TLSS Insurance Law Blog

On August 10, 2018, the Florida Court of Appeals for the Second District upheld a trial court’s dismissal of an insurance company’s intervention in a tort lawsuit brought against its insured for the purposes of submitting special interrogatories and verdict forms.

In Houston Specialty Ins. Co. v. Vaughn, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 11197, 2018 WL 3795785 (Fla. 2d DCA Aug. 10, 2018), the insured, All Florida Weatherproofing and Construction, Inc. (“All Florida”) provided pressure washing, roof coating, and other roof-related services. Houston Specialty issued a general liability policy to All Florida. In 2012, a worker fell off a roof while applying protective coating on behalf of All Florida. The worker and his family sued All Florida in connection with the worker’s injuries.

Mr. Macklin may be contacted at jmacklin@tlsslaw.com


Public-Private Partnerships: When Will Reality Meet the Promise?

Public private buttons

Richard Fechner, GHD discusses the status of public-private partnerships.

October 9, 2018
Richard Fechner, GHD - Engineering News-Record

The promise of public-private partnerships (P3s) seems irresistible. The $4.5-trillion that the American Society of Civil Engineers says the U.S. must spend on at-risk infrastructure by 2025 is a backlog beyond the collective means of local, state and federal governments to fund and deliver.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com


Constructive Changes – A Primer

Time for change on clock illustration

Constructive changes are not formal change orders, but informal changes that could have been ordered under a contract’s changes clause if the change had been recognized by the owner.

October 2, 2018
Jonathan R. Mayo - Smith Currie

A “constructive change” occurs when an owner action or omission not formally acknowledged by the owner to be a change in the contact’s scope of work forces the contractor to perform additional work. Constructive changes are not formal change orders, but informal changes that could have been ordered under a contract’s changes clause if the change had been recognized by the owner. The constructive change doctrine recognizes that being informally required to do extra work is similar to a formal change order and should be governed by similar principles. Thus, if it is found that a constructive change order did occur, the contractor may be entitled to payment for additional costs incurred, and an extension to the contract performance period.

Constructive changes most often arise where there is a dispute regarding contract interpretation, defective plans and specifications, acceleration or suspension of work, interference or failure to cooperate with the contractor, misrepresentation or nondisclosure of superior knowledge or technical information, over inspection, or a delay in providing requested information crucial to the contractor’s ability to continue work.

Mr. Mayo may be contacted at jrmayo@smithcurrie.com


California Court Holds No Coverage Under Pollution Policy for Structural Improvements

Improvement word on target board

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California considered the issue of a pollution liability insurer’s obligation to pay for the redesign of a structural support system necessitated by the alleged presence of soil contamination.

October 2, 2018
Brian Margolies - TLSS Insurance Law Blog

In its recent decision in Essex Walnut Owner L.P. v. Aspen Specialty Ins. Co., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138276 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 15, 2018), the United States District Court for the Northern District of California had occasion to consider the issue of a pollution liability insurer’s obligation to pay for the redesign of a structural support system necessitated by the alleged presence of soil contamination.

Aspen’s insured, Essex, owned a parcel of property it was in the process of redeveloping for commercial and residential purposes. The project required excavation activities in order to construct an underground parking lot, and as part of this process, Essex designed a temporary shoring system comprising tied-in retaining walls in order to stabilize the area outside of the excavation. During the excavation work, construction debris was encountered requiring removal. Aspen agreed to pay for a portion of the costs to remove and dispose the debris under the pollution liability policy it issued to Essex.

Mr. Margolies may be contacted at bmargolies@tlsslaw.com


Concerns Over Unstable Tappan Zee Bridge Push Back Opening of New NY Bridge's Second Span

Yaquina bridge

Terry Towle , the chief executive officer of Tappan Zee Constructors, the contractor tasked with dismantling the old steel span, said the decision to halt the lane switch was made "out of an abundance of caution."

October 2, 2018
The New York Daily News - Engineering News-Record

Sept. 08 --Big bridge, big scissors, big problems.
A day after an elaborate ribbon-cutting ceremony, the grand opening of the second span of the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo bridge was postponed over concerns that the remains of the "destabilized" and "dangerous" Tappan Zee Bridge could collapse.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com


New York State Trial Court: Non-Cumulation Provision in Excess Policies Mandates “All Sums” Allocation

Judge at court illustration

The New York Supreme Court, New York County, confirmed a referee’s finding that “all sums” allocation was required under excess policies issued by Midland Insurance Company because they included a non-cumulation provision.

October 2, 2018
Paul Briganti - White & Williams LLP

On August 18, 2018, the New York Supreme Court, New York County, confirmed a referee’s finding that “all sums” allocation was required under excess policies issued by Midland Insurance Company because they included a non-cumulation provision. See Matter of Liquidation of Midland Ins. Co., Index No. 041294/1986 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 18, 2018).

Midland was a multi-line carrier that wrote a substantial amount of excess coverage for Fortune 500 companies. In the 1980s, Midland faced significant exposure for environmental, asbestos and product liability claims. In 1986, it was placed in liquidation and the New York State Superintendent of Insurance (the Liquidator) was appointed as its receiver. Since then, the New York Supreme Court has presided over the liquidation proceedings.

Mr. Briganti may be contacted at brigantip@whiteandwilliams.com


Court Upholds Denial of Collapse Coverage Where Building Still Stands

Building collapse ruin

The insured's place of business sustained damage due to failure of several trusses providing structural support to the building's roof. The failure was due to latent construction defects leading to an insufficient load bearing capacity.

October 2, 2018
Tred R. Eyerly - Insurance Law Hawaii

The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision finding the policy's collapse coverage did not apply. Cmty. Garage v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 2018 Mich. App. LEXIS 2680 (Mich. Ct. App. June 19, 2018).

The insured operated a truck repair business. In June 2016, the insured's place of business sustained damage due to failure of several trusses providing structural support to the building's roof. The failure was due to latent construction defects leading to an insufficient load bearing capacity. The roof began to sag while one of the walls bulged outward due to the sudden pressure overload. The insured hired a construction firm to install temporary shoring to support the roof and prevent further damage. All of the building's walls remained standing and, although the roof sagged, it also remained intact. However, the building could not be safely occupied until repairs were completed.

Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at te@hawaiilawyer.com


Boys (and Girls) of Summer: New Residential Solar Energy System Disclosures Take Effect January 1, 2019

Solar panels

The CCSLB advises licensees that it has finalized its Solar Energy System Disclosure Document.

October 2, 2018
Garret Murai - California Construction Law Blog

As we come to the end of Summer, the California Contractors State License Board advises licensees that it has finalized its Solar Energy System Disclosure Document. The Solar Energy System Disclosure Document, required under Business and Professions Code Section 7169 as amended by Assembly Bill 1070 in 2017, requires that the disclosure language of the document be:

  1. Included in all contracts providing for the installation of a “solar energy system” on a residential building;
  2. Included on the front page or cover page of the contract;

Mr. Murai may be contacted at gmurai@wendel.com


As Florence Eyes East Coast, Are You Looking At Your Insurance?

Closeup of eyes

Michael S. Levine and Andrea DeField discuss the importance of insurance in hurricane claims.

October 2, 2018
Michael S. Levine & Andrea DeField - Hunton Insurance Recovery Blog

Hurricane Florence will affect the U.S. east coast later this week with significant damage to property and resulting business disruption. Businesses far-removed from the impact zone also will be affected as manufacturing, retail, travel and supply chains, among other industries, are disrupted by the physical damage. For those in the impact zone, knowing the fundamentals about your property insurance is critical. For those in remote locations, now is a good time to refresh yourself as well, since post-storm disruptions and losses require prompt notice to insurers and fast action to help mitigate any resulting loss. A failure on either front could jeopardize coverage.

Reprinted courtesy of Michael S. Levine, Hunton Andrews Kurth and Andrea DeField, Hunton Andrews Kurth
Mr. Levine may be contacted at mlevine@HuntonAK.com
Ms. DeField may be contacted at adefield@HuntonAK.com


Oracle Unveils Collaborative Test Site for Construction Tech

October 2, 2018
Jeff Rubenstone - Engineering News-Record

Looking to bolster development of new technologies for construction and give industry players a place to test new products, Oracle has created a Construction and Engineering Innovation Lab. Located on the campus of the former Textura headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., the 15,000-sq-ft initial phase of the facility is designed to resemble an “in-progress” construction site, ready to be rigged with the latest in sensor and automation technology for testing and demonstration.

Mr. Rubenstone may be contacted at rubenstonej@enr.com


What is the Implied Warranty of Habitability?

Paper of limitation warranty with red pencil

Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara examine what the warranty of habitability is, how it developed, and what differentiates the warranty of habitability from the previous landlord-tenant law.

October 2, 2018
Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara

The implied warranty of habitability plays an important role in our understanding of the relationship between tenant and landlord; it helps to define the parameters and requirements of contracts between tenant and the owner. In doing so, the implied warranty of habitability is meant to ensure that a home or rental unit is in a livable condition. In this article, we’ll take a look at what the warranty of habitability is, how it developed, and what differentiates the warranty of habitability from the previous landlord-tenant law.

Background of the Implied Warranty of Habitability
When someone hears about the warranty of habitability, their first question is usually “what is the implied warranty of habitability?” This is understandable, given that the implied warranty of habitability isn’t exactly well known. Most renters have probably never heard of the implied warranty of habitability, despite the fact that it provides important safeguards for tenant’s rights. In order to gain a better understanding of what the implied warranty of habitability is, it is helpful to understand what state of affairs existed prior to the adoption of an implied warranty of habitability.


How AI Can Become a Design Adviser

Technology background design

“We want to build a system that can help the designers in their daily repetitive tasks by suggesting possible viable outcomes for a design," says Ricardo Farinha, BIM Application Development Manager at Sweco.

October 2, 2018
Aarni Heiskanen - AEC Business

Parametrized design software is not a recent invention. This software is based on predetermined, fixed algorithms, leaving most of the work to the designer. Sweco, a leading engineering consultancy, is now exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) could take design automation in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry to the next level.

Mr. Heiskanen may be contacted at aec-business@aepartners.fi


Canadian Home Sales Rise for a Fourth Straight Month

October 2, 2018
Greg Quinn - Bloomberg

Canada’s housing market showed continued signs of stabilizing in August, with sales rising for a fourth straight month and prices easing.

The number of transactions rose 0.9 percent from July to 39,366 units, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Monday from Ottawa. Sales in Toronto, the nation’s biggest city, advanced 2.2 percent and rose 2.9 percent in Vancouver.


Quick Note: Mitigation of Damages in Contract Cases

Businessman holding contract

The doctrine of avoidable consequences does not allow a trial court to reduce damages “based on what ‘could have been avoided’ through Herculean efforts. It applies only where a claimant fails to undertake measures to avoid damages that are available to him without undue effort or expense.

October 2, 2018
David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

In an earlier article, I discussed an owner’s measure of damages when a contractor breaches the construction contract. This article discussed a case where the contractor elected to walk off a residential renovation job due to a payment dispute when he demanded more money and the owners did not bite. This case also discussed the commonly asserted defense known as mitigation of damages, i.e., the other party failed to properly mitigate their own damages.

In the breach of contract setting, mitigation of damages refers to those damages the other side could have reasonably avoided had he undertaken certain (reasonable) measures. This is known as the doctrine of avoidable consequences.

Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com


The Construction Industry's Health Kick

Doctors team walking in hospital corridor

“All parts of the country are experiencing significant health care design and construction activity,” observes Hank Adams, HDR’s global director of health.

October 2, 2018
Erin Ansley - Construction Executive

The construction industry appears to be on a health kick, and by all accounts it isn’t a fad. Trends identified in recent years in the health care sector are strengthening with a surge of new projects nationwide.

“All parts of the country are experiencing significant health care design and construction activity,” observes Hank Adams, HDR’s global director of health. “We’re expecting continued growth into the near future and feel optimistic that the marketplace will continue to be strong.”

Modern urban planning strategies, engineering advancements and sophisticated design take center stage as oversized hospitals serving large patient populations within a 100-mile radius make way for more specialized centers that target the overall wellness of the local community.

Reprinted courtesy of Erin Ansley, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.


The Right Endorsement: Additional Insureds

October 2, 2018
Christine Cowan - Construction Executive

Adding other parties as an additional insured on to a general liability policy has become increasingly popular during the past 20 years. Almost every contract, especially in the construction industry, includes this requirement. To keep up with demand and pressure from the insurance industry, the Insurance Services Office has issued various versions of the standard endorsements, CG 20 10 and CG 20 37, which have not always been advantageous to additional insureds, especially in the construction industry. Therefore, it is important to review construction contracts in full and pay special attention to the wording revolving around the additional insured endorsements.

Reprinted courtesy of Christine Cowan, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.


Fourth Circuit Issues New Ruling on Point Sources Under the CWA

New on illustration of article

Anthony B. Cavender discusses the Clean Water Act.

October 2, 2018
Anthony B. Cavender - Gravel2Gavel

The Clean Water Act (CWA) authorizes citizen suits to enforce the provisions of the law which requires a permit to discharge a pollutant from a point source into navigable waters. Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Upstate Forever v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, held that discharges into groundwater, not surface water, could also trigger the regulatory authority of the CWA if there was a hydrological connection between the groundwater and the navigable, surface, waters. In its a closely-watched case, Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric & Power Company (“VEPCO”), which also involved discharges into groundwater, the Fourth Circuit was bound by this this new and controversial precedent (a Supreme Court review is very likely), but the plaintiffs in the VEPCO case could not establish that the landfill and the settling ponds used by VEPCO were “point sources”—another important element that must be established.

Mr. Cavender may be contacted at anthony.cavender@pillsburylaw.com


$109-Million Renovation Begins on LA's Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station

tools on wooden desk background

Renovations are underway on the $109-million Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station Improvement Project in Los Angeles.

October 2, 2018
Greg Aragon - Engineering News-Record

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), along with the Los Angeles office of Stantec, recently began work on the $109-million Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station Improvement Project in Los Angeles.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com



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