The construction industry is comprised of a complex system integrating many small independent contractors and consultants working together concurrently for the fulfillment of a common goal. For a contractor, this would mean working together with other contractors throughout the course of the project. Inasmuch as you may be hired as an independent contractor, you still legally owe a duty of care to the other contractors you work with in the project.
Disputes are common among independent contractors on construction sites, especially in instances where one contractor’s work significantly affects the other contractors’ works. Confusion between contractors can lead to conflict which could easily lead to injury, equipment damage, and missed deadlines. By putting some safety measures into place, you’ll be protect your reputation as a reliable contractor. Here are 5 things you can do to ensure smooth operations around other contractors:
The first step immediately after obtaining the contract would be to identify all the other contractors in the project and classify them into groups according to which independent contractors are most complementary to your trade. It is significant to identify contractors who are interdependent to your trade and whose involvement may directly impact your work. For instance, in the excavation of a basement, the excavation contractor’s work may be directly interdependent with the waterproofing contractor’s work. It is important to avoid these situations in order to protect your reputation. Delays and disputes could impact the construction timeline.
A stakeholder register captures the various expectations and requirements of each stakeholder in the project, with relations to your trade. For a contractor, this would include all contractors and consultants who may be impacted directly or indirectly by the contractor’s actions, and vice versa. This register will also assist the independent contractor to identify clearly when to consult and engage the other contractors during operations.
The next step is to organize meetings with the other interdependent contractors, to outline scopes and address any concerns that may occur during the project. A plan of action for all interactions during operations should be set out, to ensure that each contractor’s activities do not delay the operations of the other.
The most important step is to harmonize your schedule as a contractor to the general schedule of the project, as well as the schedules of your interdependent contractors. For instance, the painting contractor must harmonize schedules with the plastering contractor, since they are in an end-to-start task dependency.
During all operations, it is of essence to ensure that you maintain the occupational health and safety standards. Negligence may cause accidents and injuries to other contractors on site. A contractor must wear the suitable personal protective equipment (PPEs) required to undertake the task at hand. Instructions and warning signs should be put up at any accident-prone areas. The contractor must also clean up after operations and hence ensure a safe and comfortable working environment for other independent contractors. This will not only protect your fellow workers, it will also protect your reputation as a contractor that is easy to work with.
Smooth operations among general and independent contractors are affected simply by proper communication, and the fulfillment of roles and responsibilities of each contractor, not only to yourself, but also to the other contractors around you. Besides taking these 5 preventative measures, what else can you do to protect your business reputation and, just as importantly, your assets? Investing in the right small business insurance is imperative. For instance, when faced with claims for medical expenses arising from third-party bodily injury (like another contractor) will you have insurance coverage for medical costs and legal fees? If you’re unsure about which small business policy is best for your contractor company, your questions can be answered by experienced insurance agents at Small Business Liability.
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