The following article was written by Miami Construction Lawyer Alex Barthet and appeared first on The Lien Zone. It was re-posted with permission from the author. To view the original post, titled, “Are you Using Daily Job Reports,” click here. For more information about Alex and his firm, please visit TheLienZone.com and Barthet.com.
In a court of law, a contractor’s daily reports are critical. In many instances, they are considered key evidence showing what actually occurred at specific times on the job. And since people’s memories fade, a court will likely rely heavily on what the daily reports say happened (especially when presented with a corroborating witness).
The problem is that many contractors fail to create these reports. And those that do create them, do it only at the beginning of the project or sporadically throughout the progress of the job, generally only when they are reminded to do so. Daily reports (hence the name) only become truly effective when they are, in fact, done daily.
The importance of timely documentation
The reason that daily reports are admissible in court (again, with corroborating testimony) is that they are interpreted as being recorded at or about the time the events in question occurred. Field managers should, therefore, write up these reports daily while the work is occurring or very soon thereafter to capture as accurate an account as possible. Not created until the end of the week or month, the information will surely not be as accurate and may not be as helpful in supporting a case if suit is filed.
What to include in daily construction reports
To reduce a company’s legal risk, daily reports should clearly describe the entire project’s status as it applies to a contractor’s scope and the schedule. At a minimum, the report should include:
- The date of the report;
- Who is writing the report;
- The time work starts and finishes on that day;
- A description of the weather;
- On smaller jobs, the employees, and subcontractors, by name, title, and company, who are on the job site. On medium to large jobs, the total number of employees and subcontractors by title and company will suffice;
- Any material deliveries of significance, such as large dollar items, for example, fixtures or pallets of tile;
- The current state of the schedule as compared to planned scope of work and what is causing any delay; and
- Anything else that is out of the ordinary that may be occurring, or not occurring, that is impacting or may impact the project or the contractor’s schedule and work.
Daily reports serve many purposes. Make sure those who complete them understand how they will be used and how they can positively impact a project summary. A contractor’s good name and financial success on a given project can depend on it.
OSHA currently controls over 20 laws that protect workers who file safety complaints against their employer or other employees. In general, whistleblowers are protected against retaliation from their employer.
In August of 2016, it was discovered that a luxury high rise condominium complex in San Francisco, which houses several celebrities, was sinking and leaning considerably. The 58-story Millennium Tower contains home that range in value of anywhere from $1.6 million to $10 million. Since the discovery, fingers have been pointed in all directions and several lawsuits have been filed.
In January of this year, tragedy struck a Florida construction company when 3 construction workers died while working underground below a newly paved road. After the first worker entered the hole and collapsed after entering the confined space through a manhole, the second went in to rescue him and also collapsed, followed by the third. After a post-incident investigation, OSHA has released their findings, as well as several fines.
In late June, OSHA pushed the enforcement of their 2016 rule which will require employers to electronically submit injury and illness reports from July 1, 2017 to December 1, 2017. At that time it was unknown when the administration would launch the platform to submit the data online, but that has now been decided.
In January of 2017, OSHA released a final rule which greatly reduced the allowable exposure to beryllium, a mineral that can cause deadly lung disease. While not as commonly encountered in the construction industry as other substances that cause terrible lung diseases, like crystalline silica and asbestos, beryllium is linked to a disease called chronic beryllium disease, which kills around 100 people each year. It’s commonly found in coal slag, which is used for sandblasting. According to the New York Times, OSHA estimates that 11,500 construction workers would be affected by OSHA’s reduced exposure limit.
In a year that OSHA can’t seem to enforce any new rules, it appears to have found a way to remove a rule from its books. As announced last week, OSHA has removed monorail hoists from Subpart CC – Cranes and Derricks in Construction. Employers are still required to follow other OSHA regulations regarding the hoists, but this rule should help clear up some inconsistencies.
Since the beginning of the year, OSHA has had a pretty hard time enforcing any of its new rules due to delays. The silica dust exposure rule was delayed 90 to September 23, the crane certification rule is facing yet another possible delay, and now the electronic injury reporting rule is facing another delay.
For over 60 years, nominal lumber dimensions have been used in lieu of actual dimensions for lumber. That fact hasn’t stopped 2 class action suits, one for Menards and one for Home Depot, from being filed by an Illinois law firm over the size discrepancy, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
On January 1, 2017, OSHA officially put into effect a revision to workplace injury and illness reporting that requires certain employers to submit recorded information of these instances electronically. Companies were to submit all of this information from the previous year (2016) by July 1, 2017, but now that due date is in jeopardy.
The worst day on the job is when someone on site gets injured. The 2nd through 500th worst days are the legal battle that follows many of those injuries. Nobody expects accidents to happen, but it’s best to be adequately prepared if one does. That not only includes knowing how to react to injuries with a safety plan, but also making sure your company’s documentation is in order in case lawsuits start flying.