Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Accident Prevention Requirements under the Federal Acquisition Regulations

Contractors (as would any company) have a responsibility to maintain work environments and procedures which will (i) safeguard the public and Government personnel, property, materials, supplies, and equipment exposed to contractor operations and activities, (ii) avoid interruptions of Government operations and delays in project completion dates, and (iii) control costs in the performance of a contract (see FAR 36.513).

For Government contractors, these requirements are often explicit such as in the case of construction contracts and contracts for dismantling and demolition (see FAR 52.236-15). Under this clause, contractors must provide "appropriate" safety barricades, signs, and signal lights, comply with worker and workplace standards issued by the Secretary of Labor, and ensure that any additional measures the contracting officer determines reasonably necessary for the purposes be taken. In the last regard, there is often a difference of opinion between contractors and contracting officers on what is "reasonably necessary".

There is also an affirmative record-keeping requirement that goes along with the accident prevention clauses. Whenever the contracting officer becomes aware of any noncompliance with the requirements or any condition which poses a serious or imminent danger to the health or safety of the public or Government personnel, the contracting officer shall notify the contractor orally, with written confirmation and request immediate initiation of corrective action.

A contracting officer notice requires the contractor to take immediate corrective action. If the contractor refuses, the contracting officer has a great weapon - the stop-work order. Contractors are not entitled to any equitable adjustment of the contract price or extension of the performance period based on such stop-work orders.

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