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Safety in Contracts

Cotney safety in contracts
June 7, 2022 at 9:00 a.m.

By John Kenney, Cotney Consulting Group.

This article aims not to give legal advice but real-world information and guidelines on safety and health requirements in construction contracts and assist roofing contractors when reviewing the safety section of your contracts.  

Contracts are essential to the construction process and may be defined as an agreement between two or more parties enforceable by law. Hence, the Project Owner incorporates safety and health requirements in the contract with the prime contractor and requires the contractor to include the same requirements in their subcontracts. Thoroughly reviewing and understanding the safety-related contractual language may help the roofing contractor avoid safety requirement disputes.   

It is common for owners and prime contractors to create a separate document that exclusively focuses on the safety and health contract requirements. It can be referred to as "Project Safety Requirements" or "Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Requirements" and either be included in the contract as a separate article or referenced in the contract but be kept as a separate stand-alone document. 

Let's cover the sections that your project team must be aware of for compliance found in almost every prime contract:  

Project specific safety plan 

This section will outline your requirements and any of your subcontractors on submitting a site-specific safety plan before any roofing work or any significant change in your activity.   

Safety hazard assessment 

Some of the standard terms for this are Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) and Pre-task Plans (PTP). These are used for site hazard assessment and control. These requirements in the contract should spell out the frequency requirements of pre-task plan meetings, safety inspections and the timeline for fixing hazards, documentation requirements, etc .   

Subcontractor management 

This section includes verbiage that allows the prime contractor to take action when you fail to comply with the contract safety requirements. 

Safety staffing 

Here, you should find out if you must have a dedicated full-time safety professional who can not hold other duties while on the Jobsite or a traveling qualified safety professional who oversees several of your projects. The section should also specify the minimum qualifications of your safety professionals. 

Safety meetings 

This section of the contract should specify the required safety meetings and their frequency. 

Site-specific safety orientation training 

Here are the requirements you are to provide to new employees for orientation safety training before they are allowed access to the worksite. It usually states the duration of the training and the documentation requirements of training completion, including if a badge or hard hat decal is needed.   

Safety training 

Besides the language that your workers are to be trained in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local requirements, the project-specific mandated requirements will be found here, such as OSHA  10 and 30-hour and any other specialized training.  

Accident reporting and investigation 

The contract section will require all contractors and their tiers to report and investigate all incidents, regardless of severity, which resulted in personal injury or illness to workers and the general public, and property damage. 

Emergency plan 

Here you will find out your requirements to develop and implement a site-specific emergency action plan and plan contents and the posting and communication demands, frequency of any required drills, and collaboration procedures with local emergency personnel.  

Special provisions 

This is a catch-all section that can cover everything that is not spelled out in other contract sections. Read this section carefully to see what additional requirements are being called for.  

The bottom line is that you need to read each contract you receive carefully and use your best judgment. The guidelines provided in this article are not legal advice. Whenever you have questions reviewing a contract, you should always seek guidance from your legal counsel. They will suggest changes and let you know of any red flags that you need to be aware of.  

About John Kenney

John Kenney is the Chief Executive Officer at Cotney Consulting Group. Prior to starting Cotney, John had 45 years of experience in the construction industry. John began his career by working as a roofing apprentice at a family business in the Northeast. Because of his skill and hard work, he progressed from roofing laborer to foreman, estimator, chief estimator, Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer with his various companies. John has worked for multiple Top 100 Roofing Contractors and is intimately familiar with all aspects of roofing production, estimating, and operations. In his last role, John was responsible for the daily operations and performance of a large commercial roofing contractor. During his tenure, John ran business units associated with delivering excellent workmanship and unparalleled customer service while ensuring healthy net profits for his company.



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