As the construction industry picks up steam, the competition for projects is fierce, as is the pressure to find labor, get jobs completed quickly and keep costs at a minimum.
Construction managers help shoulder the responsibility of safety, ensuring the appropriate measures have been integrated into all aspects of the construction process while combatting the pressures of time, labor, cost, scope and quality. With the advent of new technologies, in addition to the right partners and resources, construction managers are more equipped than ever to tackle safety and minimize risk exposure.
Raising the Profession: A Commitment to Excellence
During the past eight years, the significance of the construction manager role and its responsibilities have gained broader recognition. The key for construction managers is to formalize best practices for safety in a way that is universally applicable and collectively beneficial.
By participating in organizations such as the Construction Managers Association of America
, construction managers can advance the profession through education and define safety expectations. They also can hold themselves to higher professional standards by obtaining a Certified Construction Manager designation through the Construction Manager Certification Institute
’s ANSI accredited Construction Manager Certification program, which serves to encourage a mastery of skills and a commitment to ethics and professionalism.
Defining Insurance Needs
In many ways, construction managers act as first responders on projects—always ready to make the necessary changes to move past issues and keep a project on course. A big part of addressing and solving issues quickly is the construction manager’s ability to engage its business partners, particularly the insurance provider. Conveying their understanding of the contract, what’s being asked of them, any legal and regulatory requirements, and most importantly new safety codes is vital for each project.
To prevent discrepancies, construction managers should submit a scope of work letter to the hiring entity confirming the job at hand. Construction managers also should seek out an insurance carrier that understands the nuances of the industry, as well as the differences between an agency construction manager (ACM) and an at-risk construction manager (ARCMs).
The insurance policy a construction manager selects should be tailored accordingly. Both ACMs and ARCMs generally need errors and omissions policies, as well as general liability to protect from bodily injury and property damage claims. Beyond that, the insurance needs of ACMs versus ARCMs can vary significantly. ACMs are the onsite eyes and ears of project owners, whereas ARCMs have the added responsibilities of overseeing subcontractors and directing construction operations. ARCMs, which may not be directly responsible for construction damages, should still have a strong working knowledge of who is responsible for what.
Another thing a construction manager should think through is coverage limits, which can vary based on the project. Prior to making a decision about insurance, construction managers ought to assess the associated costs for their specific project, and then select the appropriate package to cover potential risk. Next, construction managers should consider professional coverage to protect them from bearing the full costs of a potential client’s negligence claim.
Construction managers should look for three things in commercial general liability coverage: premise and operations, product liability and advertising injury. They need to be knowledgeable of the policy limits and excess limits for every project to find the best solution and provider. Careful selection of an insurer that can provide higher excess limits when needed is essential.
The Tech Revolution
In 25 years, advances in new technology have contributed to a safer working environment while reducing liabilities. Today, construction managers have access to tools to help them mitigate risk, including smartphones armed with safety apps, BIM tools that help assess preconstruction risk, laser scanning technology that provides endless data points outlining jobsite condition, and drones to inspect structures, monitor the safety of a jobsite and keep safety records.
Technology and safety are forging a close link that will continue to have a positive impact on reducing injuries and fatalities. In addition to assessing risk, technology is playing a critical role in aiding and streamlining communication. From smartphones to tablets, construction managers can monitor projects and improve onsite safety measures better than ever.
Planning Against the Pressure
Last year, authorities such as the Department of Justice and Department of Labor made extra efforts to uncover contractor misconduct and doled out significant punishment for violations. And in August, OSHA raised the maximum civil penalties by 78 percent for construction-related safety and health violations.
As the construction industry comes under increasing pressure and scrutiny to better ensure workplace safety, construction managers need to work closely with the right insurance carrier to protect their position and the contract.
Construction managers that are proactively learning and connected with the right resources and partners will be able to adapt their current best practices to create a layer of safety not previously realized.
Jake Morin is ProSight Specialty Insurance’s niche president of construction. For more information, visit prosightspecialty.com.