October 9, 2012

Out of sight, out of mind: who manages the site managers?

A competent site manager is a valuable asset to any construction project, supervising work and ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

So far, so good – but what if the site manager isn’t doing their job properly? Who manages the manager?

If your site manager is the person you rely on to keep you updated on the progress of the project then you may not find out about problems, such as a job not being finished on time or failing to meet the client’s required standards, until it is too late. If your site manager is turning a blind eye to serious health and safety breaches then the consequences could be catastrophic and potentially life-threatening. Equally, your site manager may be telling you they have been on site when they were in fact absent, leaving a job unsupervised.

So how do you manage site managers when they are out of your sight? Firstly, ensure you are employing the right person for the job from day one. This means checking references and verifying qualifications and training, as well as Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. Some clients may require this for everyone on site, so this should certainly apply to the site manager.

Next, draw up a detailed service agreement spelling out their obligations clearly. You may need to refer to this in the event of a disciplinary procedure so ensure that your site manager knows exactly what is expected of them from the very beginning.

Fitting a tracking device to site vehicles will help you monitor their whereabouts and, more importantly, help you establish whether your site manager was on site when they said they were.

Effective communication is key to a safe and successful construction project. Implement a procedure whereby your site manager sends you daily email reports about any issues arising, as well as regular progress reports on the work itself. This procedure could be included in the service agreement above.

You should also have clear written procedures for processes such as hiring labour, ordering materials or client contact, ensuring that these procedures are available to and fully understood by your site manager and anyone else involved in these processes.

All policies and procedures should be clearly communicated and available in writing. It is advisable to ask your site manager to sign a document confirming they have received and understood these communications.

Finally, carrying out regular site inspections will help you keep on top of developments, ensuring that no hidden surprises crop up at a later date.

Remember, following the above advice will mean that you have a clear paper trail to rely upon in the event of a disciplinary or procedure.

For further information on these or any other construction law or employment law related issue, please contact Lara Murray at Palmers on 01268 240000 or email lmurray@palmerslaw.co.uk. For further information on Palmers, please visit www.palmerslaw.co.uk.