Tornadoes and Other Catastrophic Events Can Cripple a Construction Project—And How to Respond

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Last month, a construction worker died as a storm swept through a construction site in Lebanon, Indiana. The preliminary investigation determined that the contractor was on an elevated platform while working on an industrial warehouse that was under construction. The man and other workers were in the process of stopping due to approaching thunderstorms. While the platform was being lowered, strong winds knocked it over, leading to the man’s death.

Whether you are a developer, contractor or subcontractor/supplier, you undoubtedly understand that severe weather can add cost and time to project completion.  Indeed, that’s why force majeure clauses are generally included in parties’ contract.  While there are legal implications related to pursuing a claim for additional time or money, there are also practical considerations for both job site and the workers when a severe weather event occurs.

The following list was prepared by Jake Guimond at Assurance, and it gives nine steps to create a severe weather plan to protect your construction site and employees:

  1. Do this BEFORE a storm occurs; don’t wait until a storm is imminent, or worse, surprises you.
  2. Evaluate site-specific risks.
  3. Include emergency response, securing the jobsite, clean-up and trained personnel to assist with mitigating the damage.
  4. Make sure the plan covers all types of severe weather you may encounter in your area (e.g. strong winds, tornadoes, heavy rain, lightning, storms, etc.).
  5. Make sure all employees know and understand your jobsite severe weather plan.
  6. Have a process to notify all jobsite workers of impending severe weather or jobsite evacuation.
  7. Assign a jobsite foreman to perform a worker headcount during storm refuge and post-storm.
  8. Conduct post-storm job site evaluations.
  9. Identify and clearly mark locations for severe weather refuge.

In short, a risk management plan requires that you do it, you put it in writing, you train your leaders about it, and your practice it.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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