Carpentry contractors are experts when it comes to workplace safety. With the use of dangerous equipment, sawdust in the air, and heavy lifting, everyone working in this industry must stay diligent to avoid work-related injuries or illnesses.
That may include wearing protective goggles, putting on gloves, or slipping on a mask to avoid breathing in dust particles. Of course, accidents can still happen, so to protect both themselves and their business, they need insurance.
Unfortunately, like carpentry, every business has its risks, and if you are a contractor, you are probably already familiar with this concept. Risk management is a pertinent component of running a successful contracting business, and to properly do this, you must understand exactly what risks you may face in your line of work. For most contractors, some of the most common risks include:
Injuries and Illnesses - Sadly, some jobs are more likely to put you and your employees in danger of debilitating injuries and illnesses. Carpenters, for example, have a higher risk of injuries related to saws, hammers, and power tools, as well as an increased chance of respiratory illnesses due to sawdust exposure.
Commercial General Liability insurance is crucial for contractors, but aside from that, it is essential that contractors impose safety standards both for themselves and anyone else that may be working with them. In the case of carpentry contractors, slip-resistant steel toe boots, eye protection, and respirators can save workers from long-term illness and reduce the risk of sustaining any life-changing injuries.
A few rules, paired with insurance, can protect both you and your employees, so it is important to take the time to put these rules in place. Not only could you extend someone’s life, but you can also avoid bank-breaking lawsuits.
Low Quality of Work - Poor work quality is a risk that you hopefully never face, but it is possible. If a carpenter builds a set of stairs that is not structurally sound, that carpenter can legally be held responsible, especially since they exposed their client to an unnecessary hazard. If you do happen to find yourself in a situation similar to this, insurance can help cover any manifesting legal fees.
Missed Deadlines - Missing deadlines is all too easy when you are a contractor, especially when there is not a lot of room for error. While the reality is that there are oftentimes factors out of your control, you can, unfortunately, still be held responsible.
To use our carpenter example again, there may be time spent waiting on a third party. Perhaps, a certain type of wood was out of stock and it will take some time to ship more. There is only one problem: even legitimate excuses may not hold up in court. Similar to the route you may have to take if you are sued for low quality of work, you may need to be prepared for piling legal fees if you are apt to missing deadlines. Insurance can help you pay for these legal fees, but if you would like to lessen your overall risk, leave some room for error when quoting deadlines.
Slow Seasons - All industries have slow seasons. While retail and travel businesses may see more income right after tax season, contractors of manual labor may have to, quite literally, wait for the seasons to change.
Snow and ice affect many parts of the world during winter, and during this time, it may not be safe or efficient for construction workers and carpenters to work. If you own a business that functions like this, any extraneous expenses could make or break you, so it is important to make sure you have all the coverage you need. As long as you are insured, you will not have to pay out of pocket for line items that an insurance company may cover, potentially saving you thousands during the off-season.
Damage and Theft - As a contractor, you value your equipment, but equipment gets old, it breaks, and it’s often misused. Teaching your workers to properly use equipment can help minimize costs, but insuring your equipment is important too.
While it may not be worth it to insure a ten-dollar hammer, insurance will oftentimes cover expensive pieces of equipment. For a carpenter, this may be a commercial band saw or lathe. In other industries, equipment can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars!
Considering that you insure your car, why wouldn’t you insure pricy business equipment? This form of insurance can protect you from unwanted costs if something is broken or stolen—both of which are very real possibilities.
Pollution is everywhere, so it can be easy to forget about—but what if you are responsible for it? There are a number of ways that you or one of your workers could pollute the air, the ground, or even the water, and if you do, the consequences could be dire.
It may be hard to imagine, but there are common scenarios that could lead to such a tragedy. Here are just a few:
Excavation - Unfortunately, excavating jobs are not always as easy as we would like. In the modern world, there are pipes and gas lines beneath us, and if you or one of your employees runs into a gas line, you could pollute the surrounding earth and face legal recourse.
Transport - Materials that may not seem dangerous could harm waterways, the ground, and even the air. For example, if a contractor gets into an accident and spills hazardous material into a waterway, they could easily taint aquatic environments or even drinking water. Concrete, paint, and oil are just a few common substances that could impact both natural and manmade bodies of water. This sort of pollution is not taken lightly, and if you are uninsured, there could be severe consequences.
Removal - Even leaving waste in a landfill can lead to pollution. If a material leaks from a landfill and is proven to affect the soil, you could be held responsible. Keep in mind that in some cases, even dirt can be contaminated with toxic substances like lead, and you likely will not know until you are caught by governing officials.
Fumes - Some fumes lead to a steep decline in air quality, and if you are doing the type of work that would emit these fumes, you are liable for them. One of the most notable types of work is welding, as the fumes from welding rods can lead to toxic manganese exposure, also known as manganism. Fumes of this nature not only affect outsiders, but it could also affect yourself and your nearby employees. If you are working with welding rods, it is extraordinarily important that you are insured.
Mistakes in Work Quality - If you cause a leak while working on pipes, it is important to make sure it is evaluated and cleaned up, because if indoor mold ensues, this is considered a form of pollution. If not properly insured, not only could you be liable for the damage to the pipes, but also for the mold and any illness it may have caused.
Fortunately, contractors can protect themselves from such claims. Pollution liability insurance is available to assure that you are covered if you ever have the misfortune of exposing the air, the waterways, or the soil to toxic fumes or chemicals.
Many contractors make the mistake of thinking they are not at risk of spreading pollution. Others believe that they are covered under their Commercial General Liability insurance. The fact of the matter is: neither of these are true.
While Pollution Liability insurance was, once upon a time, included with Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance, that is no longer the case. With pollution on the rise, this standard has changed and Pollution Liability insurance can only be purchased as a separate entity.
General liability insurance will not provide coverage if you are the source of pollution, and it is pertinent that you understand this. If you don’t, it could cost your business a monumental amount of money. In fact, if you look at your CGL policy, it is usually written as the Total Pollution Exclusion Endorsement. For this reason, you really do need to find adequate pollution liability coverage.
As for making pollution, we have already mentioned some of the ways that contractors can cause pollution. Even if you and your team provide a quality service, accidents happen, and one of these accidents could lead to extensive fees and costly lawsuits. In these cases, your best defense is insurance.
All in all, protecting yourself and your business can be difficult, but it is much easier than spending time in court and paying fees to governing agencies and lawyers. Now that you know you need Pollution Liability insurance, take some time to find the right policy for you! You will find that, unlike unnecessary costs, peace of mind is priceless.