Do you have adequate coverage on your construction sites?
Vacant construction sites pose many treats to you including fires, people trespassing, people stealing and many other constant threats. You may wonder what kind of losses a vacant property could incur, it is not only the threat of damaged or stolen material but it is also the liability you might face if someone gets hurt on your property or the time you will lose if a piece of your equipment goes missing or is damaged and you have to replace it. Here at The Presidio Group we are experts in construction insurance and liabilities we can help you to understand the risks associated with a vacant building and the necessary coverage you will need. Do you know the risks you face? It is important to be aware of these risks so you can protect yourself and your company. You can take preventive measures to maintain your vacant properties that will help you reduce your risk and liability as well as having comprehensive insurance coverage.
Knowing Your Risks!
Vacant buildings attract vandalism and trespassing, having a vacant construction site increases your risk of these acts occurring. Did you know as a contractor you may be held responsible for any injures that a child is involved in while trespassing or playing on your vacant construction site? Vacant construction sites are more likely to catch on fire. According to the U.S. Fire Administration an estimated 4,800 construction site fires cause $35 million in property loss and most of the sites are vacant. The risk of injury or being struck by debris and other objects doubles amongst firefighters when they are working on construction sites.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk?
As a contractor there are many simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk and minimize your liability, you can extend your coverage as well as take some of the simple preventive measures that we describe below.
- How do you avoid vandalism? – Make sure you keep your construction site well lit, this will detour people from entering the site. Putting up the right signs can help to keep vandals and thieves away from your construction site.
- Reduce your responsibility – Keep your construction site clean and free from potential hazard. This will help the site to be safer and lessen the chance of bodily injury to others including police officers, firefighters, maintenance crew, and even trespassers. If someone is injured by ditches, equipment, walls, or other physical features these could be considered attractive nuisances.
- How do you avoid damage on your construction site? – Get rid of all excess material and any combustibles that are in and around your construction site. Make sure you visit and inspect your site on a regular basis and make sure it stays free from any fire hazards.
Taking A Closer Look At Your Contract
Review your contract. Most property owners will require you to have builder’s risk insurance. This insurance helps protect the property and any insurable materials that you may have on your site. It will give you coverage in incidents such as fires, vandals, lightning, wind and other similar forces while the site is under construction. This type of insurance tends to be costly due to the risks and liability involved with vacant buildings. Take time and ask yourself what is the cost of not having this coverage? The costs incurred by any of these incidents may be much higher than paying for an incident after it has already occurred, look over your coverage and make sure you get a detailed and inclusive coverage. For more information on construction insurance and to obtain vacant property insurance contact your risk advisor at The Presidio Group today.
-Construction Insurance & Risk Management
Image Credit: Ell Brown
Over the years we have worked with many companies to help manage their trucking risk, we have found that drowsy driver or driver fatigue plays a prominent problem in the trucking industry. Driving without adequate rest and rejuvenation impairs your ability to be alert and perform well. Driver fatigue can be caused by multiple factors suck as lack of sleep, long work hours, exerting or strenuous work, etc. 13 percent of large truck crashes are attributed to fatigue driving according to The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS).
We have provided you with some trucking risk management tips below to help you stay alert and healthy while driving.
TIP # 1: GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP
Avoid drowsy driving and get your beauty rest. Your body is more likely to feel drowsy between the hours of 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. If you drive drowsy it may impair your reflexes and take your body more time to respond potentially increasing your odds of hazard or being involved in a crash. Chose a safe place to pull over and rest if you become drowsy while driving.
Your body goes through a wake/sleep cycle know as the circadian rhythm. Your internal clock is involved in this cycle; this controls your daily pattern of alertness in the human body. If you are not getting adequate sleep the level of fatigue during “lulls” can increase and may affect your performance and alertness on the road.
Your alertness is related to the time of day according to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Most people’s level of alertness decreases at night, especially after midnight. If you are on the road for an extended period of time this may increase the level of drowsiness.
Drivers are more likely of being involved in an incident during the first hours of driving, according to a recent study. The author of this study feels that this may be caused by sleep inertia shortly after waking up. Sleep inertia impairs your performance, short-term memory, vigilance, cognitive functioning, ability to resist sleep and reaction time.
TIP # 2: MAKE SURE YOU EAT YOUR GREENS
Make sure you maintain a healthy diet. You want to keep on schedule when you eat; if you are not staying on schedule and missing meals this could lead to fatigue or cravings. Going to bed hungry or after eating large meals can affect your sleep pattern. For more restful sleep having a light snack before bed can help. Lack of sleep or induced fatigue may cause your reaction time to slow down, lack of attention, memory lapse, lower your awareness, mood changes, and can reduce your judgment. Unhealthy lifestyles, long working hours, and trouble sleeping are the main causes of CMV drivers falling asleep while driving according to a recent study.
TIP # 3: NAP TIME!
When you feel drowsy you should take a nap. Ideally your nap should last 45 minutes, allow yourself 15 minutes after waking up to recover before you drive, naps should not be any less that 10 minutes.
Choose a short nap over drinking a cut of coffee when you are trying to restore your energy levels. Nap to prevent drowsiness rather than when you are already drowsy, this has been proven to be more effective.
TIP # 4: DO YOUR MEDICATIONS MAKE YOU FEEL DROWSY? AVOID THEM WHILE DRIVING
If you are planning to drive avoid any medications that can cause drowsiness. Most medicines that have this effect are labeled to avoid operating machinery while taking this prescription. Tranquilizers, sleeping pills, allergy medication, and cold medicines are some of the common medications that could cause drowsiness.
17 percent of CMV drivers have crashed while under the influence of over the counter drugs according to a recent study. It is safer to drive suffer from the cold rather than driving under the influence of cold pill, cold pills are one of the most common medications that cause drowsiness.
TIP # 5: BE AWARE OF DROWSY DRIVING SIGNALS
Be aware of your body’s signals. If you are yawning frequently or your eyes feel heavy or blurry, recognize that these are indications that you might be drowsy.
If you have been awake for 18 hours it is equivalent to being legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08, this increases your risk for a crash. Have you ever experienced an error as a result of drowsiness? Three out of four drivers have reported that they have made at least one error due to drowsy driving according to a study taken in 2005.
TIP # 6: TRICKING YOURSELF TO STAY AWAKE? THIS DOESN’T WORK
Trying to keep yourself awake by drinking coffee, freezing yourself out by rolling down the window, blasting the radio, and other alternative tricks do not really cure drowsiness.
Do you use caffeine to keep you awake? Consuming excessive amounts of caffeine can cause headaches, nervousness, irritability, and insomnia. Caffeine takes time to get into your system and give you the energy boost you desire, you may not feel it kick in as quickly as you would like it to. If you regularly use caffeine the effect may not be as big as you anticipated. These types of tricks may give you a quick fix but they will not allow you to maintain an acceptable level of alertness.
Source: DOT/FMCSA CMV Driving Tips: Driver Fatigue
Image Credit: Brian Harrington Spier
Contact The Presidio Group for more information on Trucking Risk Management:
or visit us at
-Transportation Insurance & Risk Management
construction insurance and contracting
Safety education for provided by the insurance specialists at The Presidio Group.
Housekeeping in construction is much more than just sweeping up or taking out the trash at the end of the day. Housekeeping includes a variety of duties that contribute to keeping our workspace clean and safe. With so much going on and so much to keep track of, a construction site is at a high risk for accidents. To be sure, general cleanliness is very important and we need to do all we can to keep our work areas clean and orderly. As we review the following topics, please consider where these issues may be a concern and what we need to do or change to maintain good housekeeping practices.
Keep it Clear
It is fundamental that aisles and passageways remain clean and orderly on the job site. This means we need to be aware of things that are stored in passageways or areas where people walk.
We should never store tools or materials in passageways; we need to keep them clear at all times. We should also watch where cords or hoses run – if they are in someone’s path they are a tripping hazard. We should also make a point to immediately pick up obstacles in passageways like debris, food or equipment, which all can cause an unwanted fall. Anything else that might become a tripping hazard, like cords, wires, loose flooring or trash, needs to be taken care of immediately.
Spills and equipment leaks are a normal occurrence, and that’s OK. Of course, when you notice a spill, your first step should be the find its source and fix it. At the same time, use “pigs” (round absorbent material) to catch oil so that it doesn’t get into passageways.
Stay Alert Around Equipment
Remember that material handling equipment - like forklifts, cranes, hoists and derricks - is designed to move weights that are generally bigger and heavier than people. Not paying attention to when and where material handling equipment is being using can result in injuries. Of course, operators of all material handling equipment must watch out for others and operate in safe locations, but we all are responsible for looking out when this equipment is around. If you work or stand under a crane, you’re asking for trouble.
Aisles and passageways where material handling equipment is being used are designed to provide sufficient clear space, but your attentiveness is always very necessary. Get in the habit of looking around at intersections to see if traffic is approaching. If you approach a piece of material handling equipment, you might have the right of way, but that doesn’t automatically make your way right. Always look both ways.
Protecting Yourself on Platforms
Working platforms are any areas where people need to stand to perform their work. This might be on the floor, on a ramp or on an elevated platform. Regardless of the type of platform, it is important that all working platforms are set up in such a way that they do not contribute to slips, trips or falls. Any working platform that is more than four feet off the ground or an adjacent platform must be guarded with a standard railing and toe board.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Slips, trips and falls are consistently listed within the top five types of injuries that occur on the job site. Falls are classified as tumbles from the same level (tripping over something), or tumbles from differing heights (falling down stairs). If we concentrate on good housekeeping, we can prevent both of these types of injuries.
There should never be anything stored in passageways. It is also important to ensure walkways are free of spilled materials such as water, oils, etc. All of these materials contribute to slip and trip hazards.
Pop quiz: What is the safest ladder material to use in your industry? If you said fiberglass, you were correct. It is the only ladder material that does not conduct electricity. Did you know that when wood ladders are moist, dirty or oil-soaked, they can conduct electricity too?
You know ladders come in different lengths and types, designed for different uses and rated to hold different weights. Make sure the ladder you choose is taller than the point you want to reach (the top step of the ladder is for storage, not your feet) and rated to hold enough weight. Straight or extension ladders must lean against the wall in such a way that when you stand straight up with your feet at the base of the ladder, your arms should be touching the beam when held at a 90-degree angle.
After choosing the correct ladder, use proper safety procedures when using it. You should also always look where you and the ladder are going when raising, lowering or moving the ladder. When going up or down the ladder, always use two hands, using a tool belt to carry equipment up or down the ladder. If you need to lean a bit when you are on the ladder, avoid going too far. If your belt buckle goes beyond the sides of the ladder, you are leaning too far and could easily fall. When going up or down the ladder, always face forward. Finally, when moving the ladder, get off first instead of attempting to bounce it from one point on a wall to another.
There are many different ways that we can take positive steps to improve the overall look and feel of our working locations. Housekeeping involves many different areas of the operation, and whatever we can do to help maintain a work area will go far in improving our overall safety performance. As a rule, keep everything neat and in its place. When you see a problem, please don’t think someone else will correct it because another employee may be thinking the same thing. Take the steps to fix it yourself.
For More Information on Construction Insurance contact The Presidio Group at 800.924.1404
Construction Insurance: Safety on Walking/Working Surfaces
construction Insurance and contracting
Overview of Walking/Working Hazards
Slips, trips and falls account for many accidents and accidental deaths on the worksite. These accidents are especially prevalent in the construction and contracting industry because as the site changes, safety hazards will evolve and change as well. Paying close attention to the areas where we walk and work to eliminate the potential for slips, trips or falls is essential to the success of our business.
On the job, there can be many different types of slip, trip and fall hazards. For instance, material debris on the ground is just as hazardous as cords or hoses lying in walking areas. Also, materials stored improperly present spill hazards and can cause slips. The point is that there are many different types of hazards that can be in our work areas. Being aware of these hazards and addressing them is the first step to avoiding slip, trip and fall injuries at the worksite.
What other types of situations do we need to look out for? Here is a brief list of some of the common hazards seen frequently in working areas:
- Cords lying on the ground or other walking areas
- Water, oil, lubricants or other liquids spilled on the ground or on elevated areas at the site
- Materials (pallets, boxes, etc.) stored in a walking area
- Materials stored near ladders or in machine traffic areas
- Poor lighting in walking or working areas
- Poorly marked pedestrian or machine traffic only paths
Cords and Hoses
One of the biggest trip and electrical hazards comes from cords and hoses, and both are commonly used in working areas. First, cords and hoses should not be uncontrolled in walking areas because they pose trip hazards. Secondly, cords and hoses need to be monitored so they don’t become damaged. Cords that have broken insulation pose electrical shock and fire hazards.
Use extra caution when working with extension cords. Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. Temporary means only using the cord when you need additional power for a short period of time, such as when operating a power tool. Extension cords may not be used as a substitute for permanent wiring. Extension cords that are wrapped around poles or other equipment are not being used on a temporary basis and are likely being used as a substitute for permanent wiring. This use creates both trip and electrical hazards. Look in your work area and see where extension cords are in use. Report any misuse to your supervisor immediately to prevent trip, fall and electrical hazards at the site.
Material Storage in Working Areas
Look around your work area and also consider how materials are stored. Look specifically at pallets, carts, trays and other material handling or material holding equipment to see if the way it is stored creates a hazard.
Pallets should not be stored on end because they are not stable in that position. They can easily tip over onto workers or equipment. Storing boxed materials properly will prevent slips, trips and falls. Always think about where material is stored and how it may create a trip hazard or ignite because of what it is stored by.
Stacking materials in work areas is unavoidable, but can also create hazards if materials are not stacked properly. It is important to not stack boxes of materials too high to avoid tip-over hazards. Also, heavier boxes should not be placed on top of lighter boxes for the same reason – even for short periods of time. Whatever materials are needed at your site, stacking them properly will help prevent tip or trip hazards.
Passageways and Other High-Traffic Areas
Aisles and passageways are used by both workers and motorized vehicles. Combining pedestrians with motorized vehicles can be dangerous when safety procedures are not followed. When you are walking anywhere in the workplace, be mindful of where you are walking and what traffic is in the area. Get in the habit of looking over your shoulder and looking both ways before crossing an intersection. If you are operating powered machinery, slow down at intersections and sound the horn when you approach blind areas. If powered industrial trucks are in your area and unattended, be careful about where you step so you don’t trip over forks and other equipment that is on the ground.
Keeping Your Area Free From Hazards
Some of the most serious safety hazards found in walking or working areas are due to poor housekeeping. As you look at your work area, keep the following issues in mind.
- Sweep work areas so dust and debris do not accumulate and create a trip or slip hazard.
- Clean up spilled materials immediately.
- Don’t let trash overflow in work areas.
- Don’t store materials in passageways.
- Always be mindful of powered equipment operations. As a pedestrian, watch for traffic. As an operator, always be aware of workers and civilians in the area.
- Never store materials near ladders or machinery.
Walking and working surfaces can cause many different and serious injuries when safety precautions are not followed. The more we pay attention to the hazards in our work area, the better chance we have at preventing injuries and keeping ourselves safe and healthy on the job.
For More Information on Construction Insurance contact The Presidio Group at 800.924.1404
A Word to the Wise about Construction Defect: What You Can Do to Protect Your Business
Possibly no two words strike more fear in the hearts of architects, engineers and contractors than “construction defect.” A claim for construction defect can cost astronomical amounts to correct and defend. And then there’s the damage to your reputation and its impact on your future opportunities for work. It’s enough to break a business.
Today, your risk of becoming involved in a construction defect claim is greater than ever with new technology, materials and applications changing the way we
Construction Defect Risks
Today, your risk of becoming involved in a construction defect claim is greater than ever. New technology, materials and applications have changed the way commercial buildings, homes and condominiums are constructed.
Advances are enabling the design and construction of buildings that are more attractive and less costly. Yet, many of these advances have yet to be tested in real application over time, where problems may be uncovered that were never anticipated in the lab.
At the same time, new applications require new skills from contractors, who may overlook important requirements for installation or take shortcuts that cause devastating consequences. When problems occur, it’s hard to know the cause without investigation, and everyone on the project is forced to become involved. Fingers point. Often, whoever has the deepest pockets or the most to lose becomes the primary target for plaintiff lawyers. Fairly or not, you could be left holding the bag for others’ mistakes.
Let’s consider two of the most costly recent examples of construction defect, EIFS and FRT plywood:
Architects love to design using EIFS (exterior insulation finishing systems.) EIFS cladding systems resemble stucco, but are less costly to install and can be fashioned into a variety of architectural shapes, including soft curves and geometric designs. This unique flexibility makes EIFS treatments ideal for special elements such as porticos, archways, ornate overheads for windows, doors and decorative trim.
As with any exterior cladding, water can enter behind or around the system. Early applications often lacked drainage features more commonly used today. With no place to go, constant exposure to moisture can cause rot in wood and damage to other materials within the building or home. Moisture-related problems led to an avalanche of individual and class action lawsuits by consumers.
Are you using EIFS in your designs? If so, strict adherence to guidelines for materials and methods of application is your best defense against a construction defect claim.
Back in the early 1990s, FRT, or flame resistant plywood, was touted as an alternative to fire walls in multi-unit buildings. It appeared to be a revolutionary product and was quickly adopted by architects and builders, especially in the Northeast. But high temperatures in attics caused early and unexpected deterioration of the material. Suppliers went Chapter 11, and builders were left to face clients with major defects in their buildings, condominiums and homes.
What new building materials are you using in your projects? Have you done your research? How confident are you in the manufacturer and the testing? Are you comfortable with the risk?
Types of Construction Defects
Generally, courts categorize construction defects in one of four categories:
- Design deficiencies typically relate to building designs that do not meet code or perform to standard.
- Material deficiencies occur when use of inferior materials causes significant problems, such as when windows leak or fail to perform even when properly installed.
- Construction deficiencies are problems created by poor quality workmanship.
- Subsurface deficiencies usually involve cracked foundations or other structural damage caused when soil is not properly compacted and prepared for adequate drainage.
The goal of the court is to determine fault and damages, and require the party responsible for the defect to remedy the situation.
Under the standard commercial general liability (CGL) policy, your insurance company has a duty to defend you for construction defect claims if any damages are potentially covered under the policy. Coverage for construction defect only exists if there is an “occurrence” under the policy.
If the court finds against you and you are a subcontractor, the policy will frequently pay for property damage caused by the occurrence. It does not, however, cover the costs to remedy your work – the faulty workmanship or material that led to the damage. In many cases, the cost to correct the construction defect will be greater than the actual property damages incurred. Keep in mind that if you are a general contractor, the whole project is your work.
Architects and engineers will want to consider the additional protection of a professional liability policy. Professional liability provides coverage when a design does not function as anticipated or promised. Ask The Presidio Group for details.
What You Can Do to Manage Your Risk
Many risks you face are not typically covered by insurance. In addition to insurance, you can reduce your risk in two ways:
You can transfer some of your risk to a responsible third party. General contractors transfer risk to the subcontractors they use on a construction project through indemnification and hold harmless agreements as well as additional insured requirements in their construction contracts.
Indemnification and hold harmless agreements are typically included in standard construction contracts. Keep in mind that if the subcontractor lacks the financial resources to meet its obligations, you still could be obligated for any construction defect claims. That’s why it is important to check the financials of your subcontractors and choose wisely. And never under any circumstances use uninsured subcontractors. They put you at great risk and could increase the cost of your own insurance.
Whenever you hire subcontractors, have them add your business to their liability policy as an additional insured. You will be protected by the subcontractor’s policy for work the subcontractor does for you, up to the policy limits. It’s a good idea to require liability limits of at least $1 million on the subcontractor’s policy.
Always request coverage as an additional insured on a primary basis. This way, you assure that their insurance responds first to a claim. (Your insurance becomes excess coverage and responds only if the judgment exceeds the subcontractor’s policy limits.) Be sure to specify the length of time you will be added to the policy for completed operations. Construction defects often come to light long after a job is completed. You can verify coverage by requesting a copy of the certificate of insurance on an annual basis.
The best way to avoid a construction defect claim is through quality construction. Work only with architects, engineers and contractors who have good reputations and a track record of performance. Don’t cut corners. Plan and perform work in the correct sequence and with proper supervision. Be sure to document any and all plan changes. Organized records are critical to your defense.
Rely on Our Construction Expertise
The legal landscape for the construction industry is complicated and changing. In today’s legal climate, customers who are dissatisfied with work are increasingly resorting to litigation. The recommendations here are a starting point for understanding and avoiding construction defect claims. Sleep better at night by consulting The Presidio Group and your attorney. They are experts in their professions as you are in yours. Both will bring you good advice and recommendations, and make them partners with your business.
For More Information on Construction Insurance contact The Presidio Group at 800.924.1404
Construction Insurance: Employing Minors in Construction
Become familiar with these regulations from the Department of Labor to keep young workers safe, and stay in compliance.
Those minors between the ages of 15 and 17 that are employed in construction have a seven times greater chance of being fatally injured than their peers working in other industries. Because of the dangerous nature of the field, the Department of Labor (DOL) imposes restrictions on the type of work and number of hours that minors are permitted to perform in construction. Become familiar with these regulations to stay in compliance with federal law. Of course, state laws may have stricter laws regarding the employment of minors. Always consult your local jurisdiction before beginning employment.
Minors Under 16 Years of Age
Those under 16 years of age may only perform office or sales work in the construction industry. They may not be employed on a construction site. The federal rules also limit the number of hours and times of day that such youth may be employed.
Minors Age 16 and 17
Those employed at age 16 or 17 may work on construction sites, but there are several tasks or jobs that are deemed hazardous for them to perform, such as:
- Working in occupations involving mixing, handling or transporting of explosive compounds
- Driving a motor vehicle or working as an outside helper (17 year olds may drive automobiles and trucks on an incidental and occasional basis if certain criteria are met)
- Riding on most construction elevators and operating or assisting in the operation of cranes, hoists, forklifts, Bobcat loaders, front-end loaders, backhoes and skid steer loaders
- Loading, operating and unloading most trash compactors and balers
- Operating power-driven woodworking machines and metal forming, punching and shearing machines – including portable machines
- Operating power-driven circular saws, band saws, chain saws, reciprocating saws, guillotine shears, wood chippers and abrasive cutting discs – including portable machines
- Working in wrecking, demolition and shipbreaking
- Working in roofing and on or about a roof
- Working in excavation
This is not a complete list of hazardous occupations, and there are some exceptions provided for 16- and 17-year olds who are apprentices and bona-fide student learners.
Those Over 18
Individuals age 18 and older may perform any work in construction.
Recommendations for Employers
In addition to understanding labor laws, there are additional steps you can take to protect young workers:
- Recognize potential hazards
- Eliminate any issues present in your workplace that could injure a young worker
- Make sure that equipment used by workers is safe and legal
- Supervise young workers
- Be certain that young workers are appropriately supervised at all times
- Inform supervisors and adult workers of the tasks that teens should not perform
- Make sure that young workers are appropriately supervised at all times
- Label the equipment that teens cannot use, or color-code their uniforms so that others know they may not perform certain tasks
- Periodically verify through supervisors that teens are obeying safety practices
- Provide training
- Educate young workers to ensure that they recognize hazards and are competent regarding safe working practices
- Training should include how to prepare for fires, accidents, violent situations and protocol for injuries. Teens need to know that they have a right to file a claim to cover their medical benefits and lost work time if they are injured
- Have young workers demonstrate that they can perform assigned task safely and correctly
- Use the buddy system
- Implement a mentoring or buddy system for new young workers. Have either an adult or an experienced teen worker act as a buddy, and answer questions to help the inexperienced worker learn the ropes of the new job
- Check equipment safety
- Ensure that equipment used by teen workers is both legal and safe
- Develop an injury and illness prevention program
- Work with supervisors and experienced staff members to create a comprehensive safety program that includes an injury and illness prevention initiative
- Identify and solve safety and health problems that arise or typically have been an issue in the past
For More Information on Construction Insurance contact The Presidio Group at 800.924.1404
On average, two workers are killed every month in trench collapses. It is our responsibility to provide a safe workplace, free of recognized hazards that may cause serious injury or death. By instituting safe work practices and procedures while excavating and working in trenches, we can prevent needless worksite injuries.
Defining an Excavation and Trench
An excavation is any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in an earth surface formed by earth removal.
Trench (trench excavation) means a narrow excavation (in relation to its length) made below the surface of the ground. In general, the depth is greater than the width, but the width of a trench (measured at the bottom) is not greater than 15 feet (4.6 meters).
Dangers of Trenching and Excavation
Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely to result in worker fatalities than any other excavation-related accidents. Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres and incidents involving mobile equipment. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car. An unprotected trench is an early grave. Do not enter an unprotected trench.
Trench Safety Measures
Trenches 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep or greater require a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock. If the trench is less than 5 feet deep, a competent person may determine that a protective system is not required.
Trenches 20 feet (6.1 meters) deep or greater require that the protective system be designed by a registered professional engineer or be based on tabulated data prepared and/or approved by a registered professional engineer.
In accordance with OSHA standards, trenches need to be inspected daily before work begins, or whenever conditions change, by a competent person to ensure elimination of excavation hazards. A competent person is an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are hazardous, unsanitary, or dangerous to workers, soil types and protective systems required, and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate these hazards and conditions. Check with your supervisor at the beginning of each shift to make sure any trenches you will be working in have been properly inspected and are safe for entry.
Access and Egress
OSHA standards require safe access and egress to all excavations, including ladders, steps, ramps or other safe means of exit for employees working in trench excavations 4 feet (1.22 meters) or deeper. These devices must be located within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of employees at all times.
General Trenching and Excavation Rules
- Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
- Identify other sources that might affect trench stability.
- Keep excavated soil (spoils) and other materials at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) from trench edges.
- Know where underground utilities are located before digging.
- Test for atmospheric hazards such as low oxygen, hazardous fumes and toxic gases when > 4 feet deep.
- Inspect trenches at the start of each shift.
- Inspect trenches following a rainstorm or other water intrusion.
- Do not work under suspended or raised loads and materials.
- Inspect trenches after any occurrence that could have changed conditions in the trench.
- Ensure that personnel wear high visibility or other suitable clothing when exposed to vehicular traffic.
There are different types of protective systems.
Benching means a method of protecting workers from cave-ins by excavating the sides of an excavation to form one or a series of horizontal levels or steps, usually with vertical or near vertical surfaces between levels. Benching cannot be done in Type C soil.
Sloping involves cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation.
Shoring requires installing aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave-ins.
Shielding protects workers by using trench boxes or other types of supports to prevent soil cave-ins. Designing a protective system can be complex because you must consider many factors: soil classification, depth of cut, water content of soil, changes caused by weather or climate, surcharge loads (e.g., spoil, other materials to be used in the trench) and other operations in the vicinity.
Chemical safety on the job site is very important to us. Although we work with potentially hazardous materials on a regular basis, we can maintain a safe working environment if we use chemicals as they were intended and follow necessary safety precautions. Our Hazard Communication program is designed to teach everyone how to safely handle and work with the chemicals we encounter every day.
Hazard Communication is designed to do just as the name suggests: communicate hazard information to each employee. You need to know what chemicals you are working with or exposed to, hazards associated with each chemical and how to protect yourself. This education is accomplished through a variety of means, so we want to review our program with you today.
Hazardous Material Defined
Hazardous material is defined as items that have a physical or health hazard associated with them. For instance, flammable, combustible or explosive materials are physically hazardous. In the same sense, materials that are carcinogenic, toxic, corrosive and/or irritating are considered health hazards. This definition captures many of the materials that we may use on the job site, including:
- Dust from sawing, drilling or sanding
- Solvents, such as glue, paints and varnishes
- Formaldehyde exposure from working with particleboard
- Hazardous waste
- Chemicals contained in cleaning products
You may wonder who determines what is “hazardous” or not. The process of hazard determination is very scientific, is guided by strict federal requirements and has proven itself to be extremely reliable. The manufacturer of the hazardous material has the most information about their products and is required to provide this information to users of that material, like us. There are severe penalties for chemical manufacturers who do not provide complete or accurate information through their safety data sheets (SDS).
The Chemical Inventory
We maintain a listing (inventory) of all the materials we work with that have physical or health hazards. This helps to ensure that we have all the necessary SDS. Our employees are an important factor in keeping the inventory current. Any time a new material is brought into the worksite, we need to make sure it is added to the chemical inventory if it has a physical or health hazard. If you bring a new material into your area, please make sure the site foreman knows about it so the chemical inventory can be updated.
Safety Data Sheets: The Most Important Documents
SDS are the most important documents we have concerning the chemicals used at our company. These are the documents the chemical manufacturer prepares to inform the end-users (you and me) about any hazards associated with a product. SDS are required to summarize certain information, including product identification, scientific information about ingredients, hazards associated with the product, incompatibilities, potential reactions, safe handling and storage, and spills guidelines.
The most important sections focus on first aid requirements and personal protective equipment. If you have never read an SDS, then that’s something you need to do when you and the site foreman review the specific hazardous materials used in your job duties.
The site foreman will show you where all the SDS are located and will help you navigate through them. It is important for you to familiarize yourself with the SDS for any hazardous material you work with or may be exposed to, so that you can understand the risks and take precautions. In addition, you should understand the SDS so you know how to find information quickly when you need it, such as in the event of a spill or accident.
Our first line of defense with any type of material is the label found on the product container. It is critically important that every container be labeled so it properly identifies the material inside. Labels must include:
- Product Identifier: The chemical’s name and a list of the substance(s) it contains.
- Supplier Information: Name, address and phone number of the chemical’s manufacturer or supplier.
- Pictogram: A symbol inside a diamond with a red border, denoting a particular hazard class.
- Precautionary Statement: One or more phrases that describe recommended measures to be taken to minimize or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure to a hazardous chemical or improper storage or handling of a hazardous chemical.
- Signal words: A single word used to indicate the relative level of severity of the hazard and alert the reader to a potential hazard on the label. The signal words used are "danger" and "warning." "Danger" is used for the more severe hazards, while "warning" is used for less severe hazards.
- Hazard Statement: A phrase assigned to each hazard category; examples include “harmful if swallowed,” “highly flammable liquid and vapor,” etc.
GManufacturers will make sure the primary container is labeled properly, and there is never a reason to remove a label from a primary container. However, we need to always make sure secondary containers are also labeled. For instance, we you pour some degreaser from its primary one-gallon container into a smaller containers for easier use, we need to label the smaller containers (the secondary containers) with all the right information. Simply labeling the small container as “degreaser” is not sufficient; more detail is necessary. The site foreman will help you with any labeling requirements.
Let’s all remember that the chemicals we work with have a potential for danger. Most materials you encounter are generally safe, but it’s important to know the possible hazards of any substance in order to maintain a safe working environment. Our hazard communication program is designed to keep you up to date on all the hazardous materials we have on-site, and how to use those materials safely.
When you have questions regarding materials, make sure you ask them before using the material. Never make assumptions about any chemical you are using and always remain properly and fully informed about the material. In order for our hazard communication program to be effective, you need to take responsibility for using the information provided in order to keep yourself and co-workers safe.
For More Information contact The Presidio Group at 800.924.1404
Some contracts will contain minimum bodily injury and property damage liability coverage amounts that the party must possess and also may require that the customer is added as an additional insured on those coverages.
Prior to consenting to any contract, it is prudent to examine insurance coverage against the amount of liability exposure in a particular contract.
Terms and conditions
Governing Law & Jurisdiction – Look at the governing law provision to make sure that you are comfortable with the implications of the state law chosen by the drafter. This can impact the interpretation of the contract from warranties to indemnification.
Additionally, when specific statutes or regulations are referenced in the body of a contract, it is as though that statute or regulation is wholly contained within the contract itself. It is vital to read and understand that language prior to giving your consent. This happens regularly in government contracting situations.
Dispute Resolution – This is another clause with which you must be comfortable with the laws of the state or forum chosen by the drafter. The rules chosen to govern dispute resolution can impact the outcome. Additionally, you should consider whether dispute resolution is right for your situation.
Intellectual Property – When you are disclosing and/or licensing your company’s intellectual property, be it trademarks, copyrights or patents, it is important to include a clause that recognizes the owner of such intellectual property and affirmatively states that the agreement does not transfer any rights.
Standard of Care – A standard of care clause may appear in certain types of contracts. The standard of care that is provided by the law should provide the minimum standard of care for the provision of services under the contract.
Term/Termination – The contract should provide both parties with the right to terminate the contract. The situations in which termination is allowed will vary from contract to contract. Some contracts will allow the right to terminate in cases of dissatisfaction; others will allow it with a specific notice, for no cause. It is important that you contemplate in what cases you would want the right to terminate the contract. There should also be language defining the term of the contract. Does it have a finite term? Does it automatically renew each period?
Right to Cure – Related to termination, some contracts will contain a right to cure clause. This would give the defaulting party notice of a breach and a finite period of time in which to remedy such breach.
Standard Form Contracts
Unlike other industries, construction lacks a consistent set of laws like the Uniform Commercial Code or a federal statuatory scheme. Contracts produced by professional and trade associations for architects (American Institute of Architects), engineers (Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee) and commercial contractors (Associated General Contractors of America) can serve as important references and benchmarks when drafting a new contract. They are a good source of industry best practices, and using them can greatly reduce drafting and review time, meaning lower overall transaction costs for your company.
For all of their advantages, there are several things that you should be cautious about when using standard form contracts. Note the following cautions about standard forms before using them.
- Standard forms, which are written broadly to encompass many different contexts, require transaction-specific and jurisdiction-specific modifications. For example, certain states require that indemnities be written in a certain way.
- Changes made to one part of the document, such as definitions of words or terms, may affect other parts that make reference to it.
- Custom-drafted and industry-drafted forms are often incompatible. Even industry-drafted forms from different publishers can be incompatible.
- Standard forms always contain the bias of the drafter. Use this bias; know when to use various standard forms published by different industry organizations.
Reviewing general terms and features of construction contracts will help you grasp the consequences of its terms and conditions for your business. In any case, to ensure its completeness and accuracy, it is necessary to submit each contract you must sign to legal review.
For more information contact The Presidio Group at 800-924-1404 or visit
What is a Captive?
At The Captive Group, we define group captives as independently owned and operated insurance companies that provide insurance to, and are controlled by, their owners. A captive insurance company analyzes and insures the specific risks of its owners, typically reducing operating costs, and returns underwriting profits and investment income to them in the form of dividends.
Captive groups whose members represent the same industry, such as agriculture, building contractors, construction, energy, manufacturing or trucking companies.
Captive groups whose members are from diverse industries collectively pooled together.
The Captive Group creates and administers both homogeneous and heterogeneous captives. However, all share the common objective of seeking better control of their insurance costs.
Why Should You Consider a Captive?
The price of insurance coverage purchased in the conventional market can often times include mark-ups to pay for the insurer’s acquisition costs, marketing expenses, higher commissions, administration and overhead. Such pricing is specifically designed to deliver profit to the insurer’s bottom line. In a group captive, the goal is to minimize those costs and enhance your bottom line.
Better Services and Management
A group captive can purchase strategic insurance products that allow each captive member to manage predictable losses while transferring potential catastrophic losses. For captives supported by The Captive Group, this leads to improved loss control and greater awareness of the factors that commonly give rise to losses so that they may be reduced and often prevented in the future.
Enhanced Profit Potential
As a member of a group captive, you are rewarded for controlling losses and claims by receiving dividends and investment income. Your loss experience directly determines you dividends and future premiums allowing you to be more competitive in the marketplace.
Long-Term Control of Your Insurance Destiny
The Captive Group provides an opportunity for businesses to control their insurance and risk management through ownership. Because members are owners, they can customize insurance coverage’s to better meet their needs and reduce their long term cost of risk.
More Time Spent Running Your Business
Turning to an independent captive advisor such as The Captive Group, means you spend less time addressing insurance issues and more time running your business. We will help you implement, coordinate and facilitate the growth and continued success of your risk management program.
Who Should Consider a Captive?
A member-owned group captive is an ideal form of alternative risk financing for companies that share such qualities as:
- Long-term financial strength and stability
- Management teams committed to safety and with solid safety programs in place
- A loss history that is better than average in their respective industry
- Minimum casualty premiums of $150,000. However, our group captive members typically have annual premiums of at least $250,000.
How Can You Get Started?
The Captive Group makes it easy for you to get started in a group captive. Our dedicated staff of insurance industry professionals will work with you one-on-one to understand your company’s specific insurance needs and goals, then structure a program to best meet them.
Every year, business owners and executives invest a substantial portion of their revenues to insure the health and safety of their employees and companies. As one of the largest captive advisors in the nation, we have helped hundreds of businesses achieve their risk management goals.
For more information on how captives work, our services and success, or to speak with a business in your industry that is benefitting from captive membership, visit us at www.thecaptivegroup.com.