Plumbing contractors install, maintain, and replace pipes, fixtures, and devices that facilitate the flow of water into and out of buildings for new construction, remodeling, and renovations. They can work on both residential and commercial properties. Due to their many different activities, these professionals are often exposed to various safety, liability and property risks. This is why it is important to have effective loss control measures in place. This resource outlines common risks that plumbing contractors must address and offers helpful strategies for avoiding potential claims.
Plumbing contractors & completed operations
The nature of the plumbing business poses many liability issues; there may be risks of third party injury or property damage due to improper completion of a project. Plumbing contractors can be held responsible if any customer experiences additional damage after service. To reduce liability exposure, plumbing contractors should take these precautions:
- Implement proper hiring practices and ensure prospective and employed plumbers are currently licensed.
- Maintain an employee training program with reputable organizations to meet continuing learning credits and ensure employees have received the right training – including apprenticeships, trade schools or non-union – before starting their duties.
- Create a housekeeping program to ensure materials, tools and other objects at height are secured to prevent them from falling and avoid slips, trips and falls.
- Hire site security to prevent the public from trespassing on the job site and around plumbing and trenching work. Security measures may also include fencing off the area.
- Ensure that there is a fire safety plan in place and that it is communicated to every employee. If smoking is permitted in the workplace, create a designated smoking area.
As an employer, plumbing contractors must protect their employees from illness and injury on the job. Occupational hazards related to plumbing include exposure to hazardous materials and chemicals, back injuries, hit-and-run injuries, and slips, trips, and falls. Plumbing contractors should implement these employee safety measures:
- Establish a fall program and train employees on the proper use of fall protection.
- Implement a ladder safety program and ensure employees have received appropriate ladder safety training.
- Establish an excavation program and ensure that employees have received appropriate training in excavation safety and how to perform excavation tasks.
- Develop an effective workplace safety training program that requires all employees to participate in routine training. By doing so, new employees can prepare for their roles while keeping experienced employees updated on important security protocols.
- Ensure employees receive adequate training before using tools or equipment.
- Ensure that the equipment is kept in working order and that safety mechanisms – such as cables, handles and blades – also work.
- Create an incident investigation program that enables quick and thorough incident investigations.
- Establish a personal protective equipment (PPE) program and conduct a PPE survey to determine the types of PPE needed for each task. Provide all necessary personal protective equipment to employees and train them on the proper use of this equipment.
Inland Marine – Tools and equipment
Plumbing contractors face many inland marine exposures, especially since they often use their own equipment on job sites. Inadequate maintenance procedures and lack of prevention protocols can result in equipment damage, which can lead to significant downtime and costly repair or replacement costs. Plumbing contractors should consider these steps to limit the risks:
- Keep a detailed list of machinery and tools. Each item must include an identification number, age, type and condition.
- Add non-removable labels to equipment to allow easy and permanent identification.
- Implement security measures to prevent unauthorized use of equipment left on the job sites. These measures may include installing security cameras, locking equipment doors, and hiring on-site security.
- Create a program that requires pre-use inspections of equipment. Corded tools should be inspected to ensure there are no cuts or frayed wires.
- Make sure there is a hot work program in place.
- Keep fire extinguishers near all areas where hot work is done and ensure all employees are trained in their use.
Because plumbing contractors often have their own fleet of vehicles and employees often travel between different job sites, commercial vehicle exposures are significant. In particular, accidents on the road can result in serious consequences, including injuries to employees, costly property damage, and potential liability issues between pedestrians or other motorists involved. To minimize commercial vehicle exposures, plumbing contractors should follow these protocols:
- Ensure that all drivers have approved driving records. Specifically, it is important to secure the Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) for all drivers. MVRs should be updated annually.
- Provide employees with proper training on safe driving measures. Ensure prioritization of loading procedures so employees load vehicles correctly.
- Prohibit employees from using their cell phones while driving.
- Consider using telematics technology in commercial vehicles to identify risky employee driving behaviors (eg speeding and hard braking).
- Implement an effective vehicle inspection and maintenance program. Such a program can help ensure that all commercial vehicles remain in good condition and are safe to drive on the road.
- Review all commercial vehicle and trailer characteristics (eg, size and weight) to determine applicable Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. Regularly monitor compliance with FMCSA standards and make operational adjustments as needed.
We can help plumbing contractors
It is important for plumbing contractors to implement proper risk management precautions to not only limit costly insurance claims and lawsuits, but also to offer additional benefits such as greater customer satisfaction, enhanced personnel safety, fewer liability issues, and reduced risk of property damage.
Although we have provided a range of loss control strategies, plumbing contractors do not need to establish their risk management programs alone. Working with one of our qualified and experienced insurance advisors can make a big difference.
We know the industry, we understand your needs and we work with several insurance companies so that we can deliver the insurance solution that is perfect for your business and your budget.
When you have confidence in your business insurance, you have greater peace of mind knowing that you can continue working to generate revenue, even when disaster strikes.
To get started with your customized solution, contact one of our licensed advisors, or request a proposal and we̵7;ll get started right away.