The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, but it peaks sharply during August, September and October. The latest forecasts predict this will be one of the most active seasons in history, in terms of frequency and severity, though it is always important to remember that even a single hurricane or tropical storm making landfall can still be a devastating event.
Hurricanes pose unique risks to the construction industry ranging from project and labor force disruptions to concerns about the availability and price of construction materials. This is even more true this year, which requires merging hurricane preparedness and response plans with the realities of COVID-19. Because hurricanes cannot be avoided, preparing for them is the only way to manage these risks. Ensuring the personal safety and wellbeing of affected individuals is the first priority. After that, here are some key issues, and suggestions for handling them, that may help guide construction companies through the storm.
Construction contracts often place responsibility for site protection on contractors. Where those duties exist, failing to properly carry them out can lead to enormous losses that then turn into liability claims. This could be anything from removing materials that can become projectiles, covering exposed ventilation shafts, and sealing electrical conduits to ensuring that key equipment such as generators and pumps can remain functional in a storm. One way to approach it is to imagine sustained 100-mph winds and relentless water, and then make sure preparedness efforts are likely to survive that kind of test. This is not the time for guessing. It is far better to go through a rigorous analytical process now than in a courtroom years later.
Reprinted courtesy of Vincent E. Morgan, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.