Staying Compliant with Industry Standards

How Restoration Software Can Help You Meet Regulations and Requirements

When it comes to complying with regulations and industry standards, restoration companies aren’t really that different from other building contractors. Compliance with regulatory requirements is important throughout the construction industry, including for restoration contractors. Compliance management covers safety standards like those applied by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to a contractor’s workforce. Local and state building codes and other regulations also address things like disabled access to buildings, fire safety, structural stability, and other safety aspects of a structure. An additional factor relates to cybersecurity compliance, the management of which protects customer information and other sensitive data.

Staying abreast of the latest regulatory requirements is essential in the ever-changing restoration industry. Knowledge is power, and understanding how changing industry standards and regulatory requirements affect them gives restoration contractors a competitive edge. It also helps keep contractors out of trouble, as bending regulations can potentially lead to litigation. While compliance management might not be at the forefront of a contractor’s thoughts, it’s not something that should ever be ignored. Whether the regulations relate to building codes, cybersecurity, insurance-related requirements, site safety, payroll, or other regulatory issues and standards, having software that assists with compliance management will give restoration contractors a leg up over their competition.

Industry Standards and Compliance Management 

As an example of how software can be used to meet industry standards, there were calls at the 2020 Property Insurance and Restoration Conference (PIRC) to improve and standardize background checks. This involved data standardization, especially regarding the seamless exchange and accessibility of information for restoration contractors when hiring employees. This implementation of data standards would also connect insurance companies with restoration contractors more quickly to reduce the time it takes to return a property to its original condition. This would make for happier property owners while also benefiting insurance and restoration companies by creating more efficient processes.

A key way restoration contractors can improve their compliance management, often by linking with third parties like the PIRC, is by using cloud technology to manage and store this accumulated data. Cloud-based restoration software helps streamline data management for contractors needing to meet industry standards and otherwise manage compliance. Managing data in the cloud allows for almost limitless storage while providing the most recent security tools to protect sensitive customer and insurance information.

Unique Regulations & Other Requirements for the Restoration Industry

To stay compliant with regulations and other requirements within the restoration industry, contractors must continually educate themselves. Restoration workers must acquire various unique skills to ensure they have the knowledge to restore a property to its original condition. Many of these skills require that a contractor’s employees take classes to ensure they have the knowledge needed to carry out specific tasks, with many of these providing certification.

Some of these include:

  • Applied structural drying (ASD) certification shows a worker knows how to effectively and efficiently remediate structures and their contents that have experienced water damage through tested drying strategies.
  • Fire and smoke restoration technician (FSRT) certification looks at documenting damage due to fire in residential and commercial structures, along with the contents; this includes cleaning, deodorizing, mitigation, and other processes involved in fire-related restoration.
  • Hazardous waste clean-up, along with corrective actions, for which contractors must meet compliance, management of which is covered by OSHA regulations that involve working around toxic smoke particulates, raw sewage, infectious diseases, and allergens.
  • Health and safety technician (HST) certification ensures the person understands specific controls, personal protective equipment, occupational hazards, work practices, and other factors governed by regulatory requirements within the industry.
  • Odor control technician (OCT) certification deals with a range of issues related to olfactory issues due to chemicals, combustion, decomposition, organic substances, urine, and other sources of offensive smells; it includes theory on how to detect and control odors, along with learning about chemical remediation and the equipment necessary to do the work. 
  • Water damage restoration standards as put forth by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) provide guidelines for restoration contractors when dealing with water damage. 
  • Water damage restoration technician (WRT) certification shows the recipient understands how to perform restoration work that involves losses due to water damage, drying techniques, and dealing with contaminants like mold and backflows from sewage. For more information, check out the IICRC Certification Seminar.

But knowledge isn’t static. Ongoing education is imperative for workers in the industry to ensure a restoration company’s continuing compliance. Project management must look at new rules and regulations applied by governmental agencies and new methods and emerging technologies developed to perform restoration work better.

Industry Standards & Workflow

Compliance management begins with contacting the customer and tracking progress throughout all project stages. Although each property restoration may involve different processes, quality standards should be the same. As such, compliance management applies not only to governmental rules and regulations but also to standards set by the restoration industry itself. Typically, the workflow following a restoration contractor’s initial contact with customers follows certain easily defined steps.

These involve:

  • Contacting customers and arranging meeting
  • Inspecting the site to evaluate the damage
  • Photographing or otherwise recording damage
  • Uploading or otherwise storing loss photos and other damaged records
  • Filling in and filing reports with insurance company
  • Sourcing materials and equipment to provide customers with estimates

Restoration management software enables contractors to understand what tasks have been accomplished quickly and by whom. In this way, the contractor can ascertain who is responsible for specific tasks that must meet industry standards or regulatory compliance. Management in any company must assume responsibility for what their workforce does, and restoration software allows project managers to have greater control over day-to-day operations, which are essential to evaluating workflow.

How Restoration Software Promotes Compliance Management

There are countless ways in which restoration software can help contractors comply with external rules and regulations from insurers, government bodies, certification providers, and others and ensure internal compliance. Management of restoration jobs relies on communications with stakeholders like insurance companies, who must follow their own rules and regulations. Modern restoration software enables contractors to communicate with insurers while also passing on vital information relating to claims, like photos of damaged areas and moisture maps.

Other ways in which restoration software benefits compliance management include: 

  • Creating a centralized dashboard from which all stakeholders can ensure compliance measures are being properly implemented.
  • Eliminating human error by automating processes required to maintain compliance.
  • Enhancing cybersecurity to protect stored documents and personal information against unauthorized access.
  • Ensuring safety compliance on the job through recorded certifications and safety education for both employees and project managers.
  • Keep abreast of new and current environmental, health, and safety regulations, such as new requirements for working with hazardous substances or under dangerous conditions.
  • Reviewing payroll records and processes to ensure accuracy and compliance with US Department of Labor regulations regarding employee and overtime pay.
  • Scaling compliance management tools based on the size and needs of a restoration company can be achieved with cloud-based software, making it more affordable and relevant.  
  • Tracking compliance with requirements put forth by insurance companies, homeowners, and other stakeholders regarding work that must be done.

All restoration contractors and their subcontractors must comply with requirements and regulations regarding any work done. Restoration software should have built-in tools or the ability to integrate apps to manage compliance.

Facing Challenges with Compliance Management Software Tools 

It’s easier to face the challenges inherent in following regulations and industry standards with software tools that centralize and supplement a restoration contractor’s ability to manage compliance. Management of applicable rules and regulations should occur company-wide, with each team member educated about their individual responsibilities. Looking at compliance management holistically, rather than just the duty of project managers and company owners, helps mitigate risk.

For example, a field team member evaluating a job site covered by a homeowner’s association (HOA) agreement would have to follow its rules for the community. Some HOAs have stringent rules regarding external factors like roof materials and fascia colors, so being able to easily record and pass along these stipulations to the project manager or anyone else choosing materials for the project helps teams comply with these rules. Restoration software would also record communications between HOA board members and the contractor, along with linking to applicable rules, thus ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Restoration software can also be used for tracking compliance OSHA regulations and ensuring team members are trained for which they’re assigned. Like other construction workers, restoration field teams need to understand and follow safety issues that protect workers from toxic substances, respiratory issues from particulates, falls, electricity, and other hazards. Compliance management helps prevent accidents by controlling risks to field teams, subcontractors, and others working on a restoration jobsite.

How Albi Can Assist with Compliance Management 

Albi is software made by restoration industry experts for companies within the sector. It can help restoration contractors maintain compliance, management of which is imperative to their very existence. To learn more about Albi and what it can do for your restoration business, contact us today to book a free demo.