By Deb Levy

I admit it right up front: liability creep is my own shorthand for a phenomenon that afflicts the glass industry with frequency like no other. It’s expensive, ever-expanding and dangerous. Liability creep is downright creepy. Let me explain.

Over the years, I’ve reported on a never-ending series of lawsuits and settlements that slowly but consistently expanded the liability of subcontractors into areas you would never expect.

The move to more detailed performance specifications has led to increased liability for the subcontractor as well. Companies must be extremely diligent in knowing exactly what they are agreeing to provide in a job—or they could be held liable when a system does not meet specification, even though they had no role the conditions that led to failure.

Performance specs, safety, warranties, country of origin requirements, minority and veteran participation are just of few of the areas in which we have seen liability creep in to erode margins and profit.

At the BEC Conference in Las Vegas in February, attorneys Paul Gary and Matthew Johnson made a presentation about the newest area to creep—energy compliance. “You must be vigilant about how your agreements are written with regard to the energy performance of the project and your role in compliance,” said Gary. “You must clarify that role with the general.”

Gary and Johnson both advised contractors to focus on these requirements or, they warned, “you will be part of furnishing a solution to a problem you weren’t part of creating.”

But then again, that is what liability creep is all about.

Deb Levy is the president and founder of Key Communications, the parent company of DWM magazine.

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