Using Technology to Document and Deal with Weather Delays
When Mother Nature drops weather bombs, contractors can turn to technology to help deal with the resulting delays.
In January, a "bomb cyclone" hit the East Coast, unleashing blizzard conditions all the way down to Virginia. It’s doubtful it will be the last severe heavy weather the U.S. sees this year. Whether it is a blizzard that freezes a chunk of the country or just a localized thunderstorm, weather events can delay project completion, endanger workers and increase costs.
Weather is one of the most common causes of construction delays, which can put contractors at risk of financial penalties and litigation for not meeting project deadlines.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DOCUMENTATION
Proper management and due diligence concerning weather events involves documentation. In any litigation or dispute, the best defense is supported by accurate record keeping. Can your company provide documentation that work schedules were disrupted by weather? The importance of keeping good daily logs to show how weather specifically affected a project cannot be stressed enough.
Not only does your construction company need to keep comprehensive records of weather conditions, it needs to be able to demonstrate how the daily schedules were affected. Being able to point out what milestones were specifically affected by weather is important. Did heavy snow prevent access to the worksite? Did rain hamper the ability of a subcontractor to finish a task? Was a material delivery delayed?
In a perfect world, such documentation is easy, but in the real world, time is the enemy of perfect record-keeping. Supervisors and superintendents are working hard each day trying to meet tight deadlines. Who has time to stop and document weather conditions and their effect on the jobsite when there is so much work to be done in a limited number of hours?
USING TECHNOLOGY TO DOCUMENT WEATHER
Technology can give construction supervisors a better way to manage and document weather-related issues. Cloud-based daily construction reporting software makes it easy and convenient to document weather conditions as well as related delay and safety issues.
The best daily reporting software can automatically capture weather data, including emergency notifications, multiple times a day instead of relying on manually entering the information. Real-time notification features can keep project managers and stakeholders informed.
The problem with traditional pen-and-paper reporting methods is the time it takes. It can take hours each week to compile data from separate spreadsheets and notebooks, assuming it all can be located. If you can’t find weather-related documentation or data, you can’t use it.
Cloud-based construction monitoring software, easily accessible through mobile devices and smartphones, can relieve construction superintendents from the burden of manually collating documentation, saving time. Automating the recording of weather conditions removes the risk that necessary documentation will be overlooked.
Documentation of weather-related delays can be stored in an easily-accessible, cloud-based database that can be accessed from mobile devices or desktop computers. In the event of litigation, centralizing the record-keeping can allow legal teams to quickly find the data to counter delay claims quickly and accurately.
WEATHER AND WORKER SAFETY
Weather conditions can also bring safety risks from slippery footing to damaged equipment or structures. Jobsite injuries threaten not only the health of workers but can damage a construction company’s bottom line. If the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) finds safety issues after an accident, an at-fault construction company can face a penalty of $12,934 for each serious violation. This can rise to $129,336 per willful or repeated violation.
When severe weather strikes, construction management software can allow photos documenting safety issues to be attached to related notes and reports and uploaded to a centralized database. This sort of easily retrievable documentation can create the evidentiary proof that your company took steps to remediate any safety hazards and followed applicable safety regulations.
When severe weather strikes, it can create a self-reinforcing cycle of delays as crews sit idle, tying up resources and missing progress milestones. This is only worsened by the chronic labor shortages that mean project managers are already juggling multiple projects with smaller crews.
The construction skilled labor shortage is not going away any time soon. In August 2017, more than 70 percent of construction firms reported problems in recruiting sufficient numbers of workers for hourly craft labor position, according to AGC of America.
By allowing managers to remotely track weather conditions at multiple jobsites, construction reporting software can help managers better allocate existing labor and plan work schedules to increase construction efficiency. Although weather might delay work at one site, laborers could be freed up to help at another.
SUMMING IT UP
Weather remains a constant constraint on project schedules. By leveraging technology for better documentation and management of weather delays, construction companies can protect themselves from litigation and increase their ability to finish jobs on time and budget.
Dr. Sergey Sundukovskiy is co-founder and chief technology and product officer for Raken, based in San Diego. Raken has revolutionized daily reporting in the construction industry. Raken provides innovative mobile technology that automatically creates professional company branded daily reports from inputs made in the field by superintendents and foremen.