Environmental Contractors – Best Practices to Avoid Professional Liability Claims

Professional liability suits against environmental contractors can arise from clients’ missed compliance deadlines or compliance failure. To avoid these types of claims, the following loss control measures should be considered:

  • Environmental auditors should be fully accredited and trained per state and federal regulations since these employees are critical in interfacing with the prospective client. Accurate assessments of clients’ sites rely on precise field testing, analysis and understanding of waste management processes.

 

  • Firms should have staff members or consultants dedicated to ensuring the firm is updated on all regulations issued by local, state and federal authorities. These employees should also be aware of all improved methods of mitigation and containment. These key employees should be in a position to communicate these regulatory and procedural changes to all fellow employees.

 

  • Employees tasked with interpreting data and presenting findings to clients should work in tandem with another employee to ensure any discrepancies are caught beforehand. Data entry and critical analyses should be double checked to avoid misrepresentations.

 

  • Errors in compiling and analyzing data in the lab can be mitigated by extensive training of employees on lab equipment and by using equipment that records results electronically to the contractor’s computer systems. Training provided by the manufacturer is optimal.

 

  • Firms that use outside help such as student interns during the busy spring and summer months should ensure that they are fully trained on procedures and equipment.

 

  • The contractor should have a method of identifying, prioritizing and coding samples to avoid mix-ups in the lab and with accompanying paperwork. To maximize accuracy of samples, they must be monitored for optimal temperature and humidity levels. There should be a system in place that alerts a designated employee to any failures of the system and refrigeration systems should be placed on a backup generator. All lab equipment should be inspected and maintained on a regular basis. Service provided by the manufacturer is optimal. Employees should be trained to report any malfunction of equipment immediately.

 

  • Best practices should be observed while handling samples. To avoid cross contamination, employees should wear gloves and dispose of them between activities. Frequent hand washing should be encouraged. All sample containers should be sterilized regularly.

 

  • Contractors should outline in their contracts that they will not be held responsible for compliance requirements instituted after the contractor’s work was completed. To avoid conflicts of interest claims, employees working on long term research for government institutions and universities should not work on private projects that may be the subject of the former’s investigations.

While loss control measures are important to preventing professional liability claims, there are steps that TFG Insurance Specialties takes to ensure your firm maximizes its professional liability coverage. We tailor your policy with amendatory language, by negotiating deductibles and insuring agreements and most importantly, adequately describe your operations, services and projects to underwriters thereby streamlining coverage and costs.