Why you should develop a wet work program for construction sites

Water damage on a construction project can be extensive and expensive
(Photo: Filmfoto, Dreamstime)

Losses arising from water damage are costly risks that must be addressed by home builders. Such damage can arise from severe weather events (e.g., heavy rainstorms or flooding) and work involving plumbing, piping, pumping, drainage or mechanical building systems. These losses can carry serious consequences for construction companies—including hefty repair costs, project delays and reputational damage from unhappy project owners or general contractors.

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With this in mind, it’s crucial for your business to take steps to mitigate the likelihood of water damage wreaking havoc onsite. There is a wide range of organizational procedures that can be utilized to reduce the risks that accompany water-related work.

Establishing a wet work program can help contractors minimize the threat of water damage during the installation or maintenance process for various wet systems—including fire sprinklers, irrigation systems, sump pumps, stormwater and drainage, water pressure tanks and hot water systems. These programs—which can be implemented for wet work conducted by employees, third-party service providers and independent contractors—prioritize water damage prevention through a series of pre-work inspection, mid-work monitoring, post-work evaluation and permitting protocols.

Initiating the Wet Work Permit Process

At the core of every program is the initiation of an onsite wet work permit. Employees, third-party service providers and independent contractors should be required to complete a request for a permit prior to conducting any form of wet work on the construction site.

Such permits should help answer the following important questions regarding wet work:

  • Who is carrying out the work?
  • Where is the work taking place?
  • When is the work occurring?
  • What activities or actions are required to conduct the work?
  • What controls are in place to limit the potential for water damage?

In addition to filling out a permit request, the employee, third-party service provider or independent contractor should get their request approved by the construction site supervisor and be issued a permit before beginning any wet work activities.

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The construction site supervisor should receive training on issuing wet work permits and be knowledgeable on water damage prevention practices in order to be fully qualified to approve such requests. In particular, the supervisor should be prepared to conduct both a pre-work evaluation and job site inspection prior to issuing permits.

Wet Work Program Steps

  • Prepare and perform a pre-work evaluation checklist.
  • Complete the onsite wet work permit.
  • Conduct a wet work job site inspection.
  • Have a daily water damage prevention checklist.
  • Provide a jobsite wet work in-progress contact sheet or information page.

Troy D. Sibelius, CIC, CRM, FASLA, is executive vice president for The Buckner Company, commercial property and casualty insurance brokers in Colorado, Utah and Idaho. Visit buckner.com or call 303-756-9909 for more information.

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