Microbial Awareness and Risk Management: GAIG Water Intrusion Management Plan for General Contracting
Both the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shared new requirements for water management programs (WMPs) as a preventive response to the rising issue of Legionnaires’ disease, a serious lung infection caused by the bacterium Legionella. It is imperative to properly protect against this exposure, yet the development and implementation of effective water management programs that meet these requirements can be time consuming and extremely costly. In response, Great American Insurance Group’s Environmental Division and RiskNomics have teamed up to produce a value added water management program for general contractors in order to generate a prompt response in compliance with both the CMS and ASHRAE requirements. This offering provides a time-saving and cost effective solution for insureds subject to these type of standards.
Risk for litigation arising from water damage and mold in buildings has dramatically affected the construction industry in recent years. For this reason, any firms involved in construction – but particularly general contractors and developers – must proactively work to prevent water intrusions, either during or subsequent to construction, that could lead to microbial growth in a structure. Opportunities to prevent water intrusion occur at all phases of construction: design, pre-installation, installation, and maintenance or warranty. In addition to prevention, construction firms must also respond immediately and appropriately, when a significant water intrusion event occurs in a building during critical phases of construction or during renovation.
General contractors and developers can ultimately minimize their risk of water intrusion and possible resulting in mold damage claims by establishing a Water Intrusion Management (WIM) Program. This Water Intrusion Management Plan is integral to the WIM Program and is intended to help construction industry firms:
- Understand and employ the best prevention practices during the design, pre-installation, and installation phases of construction.
- Understand their responsibility to inform the owner/buyer of all maintenance requirements for systems equipment, weatherproofing, and other building components essential to ensuring a moisture-free environment for inhabitants of the structure. Fulfilling this responsibility is part of an effective risk transfer program following construction.
- Establish response protocols for their personnel to follow when water intrusion or microbial contamination does occur during construction.
- Establish roles and responsibilities for key personnel who will implement the WIM Program.
- Properly document their prevention efforts and response procedures, which will be critical should litigation ever arise. Checklists and forms provided in the plan appendix will help key personnel easily document these activities. Please note that the example checklists and forms are for illustration purposes only and are not intended to be all encompassing in nature nor can they take into consideration local building codes, trade practices, regulations, etc. Construction industry firms should develop their own checklists and forms for documentation purposes specific to their job sites, local conditions, their firm’s trade expertise, current industry guidelines and practices, etc.
- Determine when to notify their insurance carrier of the event particularly when losses trigger applicable policy provisions.
- Determine when to retain a third-party microbial consultant to assist with prevention efforts, determine when a third-party microbial consultant or mold remediation contractor may be needed to respond to incidents, and how to ensure that such microbial consultants or mold remediation contractors are appropriately qualified to provide these services.
Great American Environmental provides value added risk control to its insured and can customize a plan to fit your insureds needs - contact your underwriter or Sara Brothers for more information.
*This plan is intended for use only in conjunction with a Water Intrusion Prevention and Microbial Awareness Training course designed to relate specifically to the general construction industry.
Russ Nassof, Esq
Executive Vice President of RiskNomics LLC
Russ Nassof has been involved in the field of environmental and health risk consulting for over 25 years – concentrating his work in the areas of industrial hygiene, microbial contamination, toxic tort risk management, insurance defense, and infection control. Many of his risk management programs have been adopted as underwriting standards by the insurance industry and are utilized as risk barometers to evaluate emerging environmental and health-related issues.
He began his career as an attorney in New York in the insurance industry and later became President of Environmics, a national environmental consulting and expert firm, which was sold to TRC in 2004. RiskNomics was created in 2010 to provide creative health and environmental risk consulting to the insurance, healthcare, and commercial property communities to help enhance safety, reduce costs, and mitigate liability.
RiskNomics provides risk management and consulting services in the environmental and healthcare arenas on a national basis. Clients include Fortune 500 companies, major global insurance companies, corporations, schools districts, law firms, state and local entities. The focus on RiskNomics is to advise and assist our clients in managing potential or existing risks strategically as well as economically.
Sara is a vice president with Great American’s Environmental Division. She brings over 30 years of environmental consulting and construction management experience to Great American. Sara’s background is as a senior geologist with extensive consulting and industry experience in the petroleum, industrial, commercial, and government sectors. Sara serves as the director of technical support and training. She is based out of our New York office.