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Microbial Awareness and Risk Management: GAIG Water Intrusion Management Plan for General Contracting

Source:, Environmental Insider, January 2019
By: Russ Nassof, Esq., RiskNomics LLC

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.
Water damage in ceiling and man inspecting blueprints wihin a wood frame house
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.

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