How to protect your employees and reduce liability with documentation

How to protect your employees and reduce liability with documentation Blog Feature
The Encircle Team

By: The Encircle Team

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In the restoration industry, your employees face risks every day. Employees could be injured, the property could sustain further damage, and you are often working with complex materials and processes. There’s a lot that can go wrong. 

It’s inevitable that restoration contractors will face some risks, as they are inherently part of the business. Fortunately, there are numerous methods to mitigate the risk. In this article, we explore how restorers can use field documentation methods to help protect their teams and reduce liabilities. 

Start by Completing a Site Hazard Assessment

Prior to unloading a single piece of equipment and starting any work, restoration contractors should conduct and document a thorough site hazard assessment. A hazard assessment is the process used to identify, assess, and control workplace hazards and the risks to worker health and safety. Hazard assessments should be conducted daily.

Document Pre-Existing Conditions

It’s generally the contractor’s responsibility during the initial inspection to properly identify and document direct damages. This information will determine the restoration scope of work and which items can be restored or require replacement. The contractor should also document pre-existing conditions, this includes but is not limited to: broken, scratched, cracked, or torn furniture or interior finishes. Documenting the site and content conditions at the beginning of the project will reduce frivolous claims that your team damaged these items.

Remember, Every Picture Tells a Story

Photos are the gold standard when it comes to documenting a restoration job. Rather than describing the property and pre-existing conditions, display the conditions in their exact form with photo evidence. Tell a story to the reader.

Here are some quick tips for better photo documentation on your jobs:

  • Take pictures in linear sequence (left to right) 

  • Have sufficient lighting

  • Select high resolution on the device

  • Keep your hands very still to avoid blur

  • Begin with overview photos showing the entire room (macro), then take more focused photos (micro) to illustrate damages or high-value items

  • Take photos in the following order:

    • Location of loss

    • Exterior damages if applicable

    • Cause of Loss

    • Resulting Damage (direct)

    • Pre-existing Damages

    • Interior Building (flooring, millwork, walls and ceilings etc.)

    • Contents

Capture Critical Documentation Details

In addition to documenting all pre-existing conditions, restoration contractors need to be sure to carefully document several areas of each job site. Here are the critical areas you can’t miss.

Work paths: The paths your team will take throughout the property to perform their work should be carefully and clearly documented.

Unaffected areas: This might seem pointless, but consider that most clients spend their day-to-day lives walking in and out of their property without much thought. They might not notice a chip in the paint on their hallway walls or a scuff on their entryway's floor, but they will notice it when they are doing their final inspection after your work is done.

Previous damage: Look for any signs of previous flooding or persistent moisture problems such as water staining, corroded or rusted metals, delaminated carpet, presence of mold or decay of structural materials. Previous fire or other forms of property damage should also be documented.

It’s all about the details. Anything that you fail to document during your initial inspection with the insured may cost you later.

Reduce Liabilities and Protect Employees

Following these documentation tips can help restoration contractors reduce liabilities and protect their employees. Documentation does this in two powerful ways: first, it provides restoration companies with the verification they may need to reduce any potential lawsuits; and secondly, it eliminates claims by the insured that you damaged their property. 

If you want to protect your business and your employees, it’s essential that you have the tools you need to make complete documentation quick, easy, and accurate. 

Encircle is only all-in-one field documentation solution. We connect policyholders, insurance companies, and restoration contractors, on one easy-to-use platform. With Encircle, you will enjoy both an easier process of documenting the job site, and you’ll be able to share your findings instantly, with everyone, in one place. By taking tedious pen and paper tasks, and replacing them with intuitive digital tools, Encircle has made documenting and sharing information across the ecosystem simple. 

To see how we do it. 

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Topics: Insurance | Field Documentation

About The Encircle Team

The Encircle Team loves helping restorers with great tips, best practices, technology, and other ideas.