|By Andrews, Richard|
An Expanding Role for SH&E Professionals
The role of construction safety professionals has significantly expanded over the past decade. The industry employs thousands of safety professionals, most of whom work for contractors (general or subcontractors).
Prior to the 1980s, only a few progressive owners held employees and construction contractors who worked in their facilities to a higher level of safety performance than
The traditional approach to construction safety has been to 1) develop and implement company safety programs; 2) work with regulatory agencies to develop and implement safety rules and regulation; 3) encourage professional development and continuing education; and 4) work as an expert witness or consultant when safety-related incidents lead to litigation.
Today, construction safety professionals also find themselves involved in insurance coverage and placement; employee discipline; labor relations; claims management; fleet managementcrisis management and disaster recovery; business continuity planning; purchasing and contract reviews; subcontractor prequalification, selection and management; and permitting. These added responsibilities have made safety professionals assets to their organizations.
Now, SH&E professionals have an opportunity to help the industry improve quality management by preventing construction defect claims. This role would further increase safety professionals' value to their companies. However, to add value, construction safety professionals must understand the relationship between safety and quality management.
Construction Defect Claims & Their Effect on Construction Contractors
The insurance industry is experiencing a similar increase in losses as it did in the 1980s with worker injuries, but now the claims are related to construction defects. These defects are covered under an insured's general liability completed operations coverage.
Completed operations coverage is a section of an insured's general liability (GL) insurance policy and responds to property damage that occurs after substantial completion of the project for as long as the statute of repose in the jurisdiction where the project was constructed. In many states, this ranges from 6 to 10 years, while in other states it is longer than 10 years.
A construction defect claim is any claim for property damage that is progressive in nature, and arises out of the construction of any project and occurs after construction operations have been completed.
Defect claims are expensive. The U.S. insurance industry pays more than
The most common construction defect claims in commercial construction include:
*building envelope and structure;
*door, window and exterior wall deficiencies; *roof leaks;
*damp -proofing and waterproofing deficiencies;
*deck and balcony deficiencies;
*road and parking area deficiencies;
*electrical and HVAC deficiencies;
*plumbing and internal leaks (e.g., "wet walls");
*sound, vibration, odor, vapor transmission and code compliance deficiencies (
Approximately 75% of the claims involve water in some way (