In recent years, spurious liability clauses have become widespread in the sweeping contracts provided by general contractors, third party vendors and customers. The World Sweeping Association (WSA) has collected a number of these — like pay if/when paid, non-compete restrictions and slip-and-fall on non-sweeping days — in order to develop courses of action for its Members.
However, recently a new ‘omissions’ clause was brought to our attention. The clause is gaining popularity with general contractors and its implications affect the entire range of pavement maintenance professions. Essentially, the intent of the contract wording is to make the sub-contractor liable not just for ‘commissions,’ i.e., the standard language making them liable for wrong actions in their course of work. Rather, they are designed to make the sub liable for something they didn’t do that the general contractor thought they should have.
For a contractor in construction sweeping this might include a sweeper breakdown during a paving job; the contractor could be held liable for any and all expenses on the idled jobsite for however long it took for a replacement sweeper to arrive. Likewise, a parking area contractor could be held liable for not telling a mall manager about some sort of repair needed on the property, perhaps only after the management’s lack of routine maintenance caused an injury.
These types of clauses are being slipped into contracts with zero fanfare, in hope that the contractor will simply sign what they’ve been provided. According to insurance professionals contacted during WSA’s research on this topic, insurance policies are unlikely to cover such instances, meaning any liability or legal defense will be borne entirely by the contractor.
Nearly all of the 200+ informational articles on the WSA website are password-protected as Members-only. However, because of the issues wide-ranging implications, WSA is making its investigational article available to readers of PAVEMENT for a limited time. The article URL is: http://www.worldsweepingpros.org/contract-issues/omissions/