Plumbing contractors install, maintain and replace pipes, fixtures and devices that facilitate the flow of water into and out of buildings for new construction, remodels and renovations. They may work on both residential and commercial properties. Due to their wide variety of operations, these professionals are often exposed to various safety, liability and property risks. That’s why it’s vital to have effective loss control measures in place. This resource outlines common risks plumbing contractors must address and offers helpful strategies to avoid possible claims.

Plumbing Contractors & Completed Operations

The nature of plumbing operations poses many liability concerns; there may be risks for third-party injuries or property damage due to the faulty completion of a project. Plumbing contractors could be held responsible if any customer experiences further damages after being serviced. To reduce liability exposures, plumbing contractors should take these precautions:

  • Implement proper hiring practices and ensure prospective and employed plumbers have current licensure.
  • Maintain a training program for employees with reputable organizations to fulfill continued learning credits and ensure employees have had the proper education—including apprenticeships, trade schools or nonunion organizations—before beginning their job tasks.
  • Create a housekeeping program to make sure 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 general public from trespassing on the worksite and around plumbing and trenching operations. Security measures may also include fencing off the area.
  • Ensure there is a fire protection plan in place and that it is communicated to each employee. If smoking is allowed on the job site, create a designated smoking section.

Employee Safety

As employers, plumbing contractors must protect their employees from illnesses and injuries on the job. Occupational risks related to plumbing include exposure to hazardous materials and chemicals, back injuries, struck-by injuries, and slips, trips and falls. Plumbing contractors should implement these employee safety measures:

  • Establish a fall program and train employees on how to properly use fall protection.
  • Implement a ladder safety program and ensure employees have been appropriately trained in ladder safety.
  • Create a trenching program and make sure employees have been appropriately trained on trenching safety and how to perform trenching tasks.
  • Develop an effective workplace safety training program that requires all employees to participate in routine training. Doing so will allow new employees to prepare for their roles while refreshing experienced employees on important safety protocols.
  • Ensure employees receive sufficient training before using tools or equipment.
  • Make sure equipment is kept in working order and safety mechanisms—such as wires, handles and blades—are also in working order.
  • Create an incident investigation program that allows for swift and thorough incident investigations to take place.
  • Establish a personal protective equipment (PPE) program and perform a PPE survey to determine which types of PPE are needed for each task. Provide all necessary PPE to employees and educate them on the proper use of this equipment.

Inland Marine – Tools & Equipment

Plumbing contractors face many inland marine exposures, especially since they often use their own equipment at job sites. Inadequate maintenance procedures and a lack of prevention protocols can result in equipment damage, which could lead to significant interruptions and costly repair or replacement expenses. Plumbing contractors should consider these steps to limit risks:

  • Keep a detailed list of machinery and tools. Each item should include an identifying number, age, type and condition.
  • Add nonremovable labels to equipment to allow for easy and permanent identification.
  • Implement security measures to prevent the unauthorized use of equipment left at job sites. These measures may include installing security cameras, locking equipment doors and hiring on-site security.
  • Create a program requiring inspections on equipment prior to use. Corded tools should be inspected to make sure there are no cuts or frayed wires.
  • Ensure there is a hot work program in place.
  • Keep fire extinguishers near any area where hot work is being performed, and make sure all employees are trained on how to use them.

Automobile Liability

Because plumbing contractors often have their own fleet of vehicles and employees frequently travel between different job sites, commercial auto exposures are substantial. In particular, accidents on the road could result in serious ramifications, including employee injuries, costly property damage and potential liability issues between any pedestrians or other motorists involved. To minimize commercial auto exposures, plumbing contractors should follow these protocols:

  • Make sure all drivers possess acceptable driving records. Specifically, it’s important to secure motor vehicle records (MVRs) for all drivers. MVRs should be updated annually.
  • Provide employees with proper training on safe driving measures. Be sure to prioritize loading procedures so employees load vehicles appropriately.
  • Prohibit employees from using their cellphones while driving.
  • Consider utilizing telematics technology within commercial vehicles to identify employees’ risky driving behaviors (e.g., speeding and hard braking).
  • Implement an effective vehicle inspection and maintenance program. Such a program can help ensure all commercial vehicles remain in good condition and are safe to operate on the road.
  • Review all commercial vehicle and trailer characteristics (e.g., size and weight) to determine applicable Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. Routinely monitor compliance with FMCSA standards and make operational adjustments as needed.

We can help Plumbing Contractors

It’s essential 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, bolstered employee safety, fewer liability concerns and a lowered potential for property damage.

Although we’ve provided a range of loss control strategies, plumbing contractors don’t have to establish their risk management programs alone. Working with one of our qualified and experienced insurance advisors can make all the difference.

We know the industry, we understand your needs, and we work with multiple insurance companies so we can deliver the insurance solution that’s 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 keep working to generate revenue, even when disaster strikes.

To get started on your customized solution, contact one of our Licensed Advisors, or Request a Proposal and we’ll get to work right away.