RJ Martin Electric Blog

Case Study – Subcontractor Error Leads to Big Penalty for General Contractor

In the realm of electrical contracting, details matter. For RJ Martin Electric, that extends throughout the universe of our work on every electrical contracting project—from our detailed estimates to the pre-construction process we follow for each project and our thorough commitment to safety on the job.

We pay attention to the details because we want to do the job we’re hired to do correctly the first time; do it on time and on budget; and not cause problems for the general contractor (GC) or end user who hired us.

We’ve said it before—GCs have a lot on their plates. With all the responsibilities they bear, they should have confidence that the subcontractors they hire for their projects in all trades will not only do their jobs properly, but also will not endanger their own viability as business operators through error or neglect.

A recent situation involving a subcontractor on a building addition project illustrates this all too clearly:

This project itself was modestly sized, but the GC that oversaw it was an established player in the lucrative power plant construction sector. Unfortunately, the masonry contractor it hired for the job had erected scaffolding on site that, unbeknownst to the GC, did not meet applicable codes.

One day, OSHA inspectors happened to be driving by the construction site when they noticed the wayward scaffolding. This was not an inspection, but rather, just a random occurrence. Regardless, they stopped their car, investigated the matter, and that inquiry led to multiple citations for the masonry contractor.

Significantly, the GC was also fined via the Controlling Contractor rule, which stipulates that GCs are responsible for ensuring that subcontractors follow all OSHA rules, regulations and codes.

While the dollar amount of the fine was itself punitive, what really hurt the GC in this matter was the five-year record of this violation in their name with OSHA. Power plant construction projects have exceedingly high standards and regulations, so for any subsequent efforts to bid on power plant projects, this black mark would be called into question—and it may even preclude the GC from submitting a bid in the first place.

The lesson from this story is clear: GCs must be able to trust that the subcontractors they hire pay attention to details in all elements of their work. Not doing so can create unsafe job sites, cause delays and cost overruns and even lead to violations against the GC for things they had no involvement in.

Whatever your next project might be, when it’s time to select an electrical contractor, make sure the one you choose is a stickler for details. This will help keep your project on time and on budget—and shield you from very costly penalties.

Contact RJ Martin Electric to learn more.

We hope this blog helps you understand 6 best practices for keeping electrical contracting projects on schedule. If you’re looking for an exceptional electrical contracting firm for your next project, or if you want information about RJ Martin Electric’s experience in industrial, health care, commercial, education and retail markets, please call Robert J. Martin at 216-662-7100 or email rmartinjr@rjmartinelectric.com.

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