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Constructive Candor

Who's Watching the Subcontractor?

We see high-voltage construction occurring all around us, maintaining the fabric of our electrically dependent, technological society. On large infrastructure projects which upgrade our electrical systems, it’s common to have several subcontractors in addition to a primary contractor in order to perform work in the short window of time allotted. On complex or specialized projects, it is safer to assume that not all onsite personnel or subcontractors are aware of immediate hazards on a project. With so many individuals involved on projects of this magnitude, who’s watching the subcontractor?

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Cultivating a Safety Culture

Safety is not simply an act, it’s a culture. A valuable safety culture tends to produce safer work environments. Sure, there are one or two safety professionals on a job site, but it is the responsibility of everyone on that site to be responsible for their own safety and the safety of others. This all sounds great, but how do you cultivate a safety culture?

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A "Stop Work" Moment

You just got off the phone with your project superintendent. It wasn’t a good call. He phoned to tell you that a dump truck just tore out an overhead distribution line while backing up with the dump bed raised. The spotter who was assisting the dump truck driver hadn't noticed the overhead hazard.

Unfortunately, a few of the other workers on the site did see the hazard but didn’t say anything. They assumed the operator of the dump truck or the spotter would catch it so they didn’t speak up. Now you have to add these additional costs and delays to your project. What could you have done differently to help prevent this incident? How about instituting a Stop Work Authority policy?

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Heavy SnowPack: A Reminder to Check Your Force Majeure Language

The big 2016 /17 winter snowpack is good news for hydropower. However, that same runoff can be problematic for construction projects in and around the waterline. Overtopping of cofferdams and other structures designed to keep the construction site dry is typically quite costly in terms of both time and rework.  

To allocate this risk, most construction contracts will contain a Force Majeure clause that addresses flooding. For the contractor to obtain relief under Force Majeure, they must show that the flooding event was not within their reasonable control; despite employing commercially reasonable efforts to prevent such an event from causing delay and damage to the project.

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