Skip to content
Try for free

May 8, 2023

Leverage the IICRC & OSHA to *help* your property restoration business

5 minute read

Restorers often view IICRC standards as complicated, or OSHA as the big bad wolf. Instead, learn how to leverage these resources to strengthen your documentation, protect your team, and take your property restoration business to the next level. Read on to see how I did it, and how you can too.

Leveraging IICRC standards to your advantage 💪

If you’re in the property restoration industry, then you are fully aware that the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is the leading authority on creating standards for the industry. Many restorers view these standards as merely guidance, but when applied in a court of law, they are the standard that you, and your work, will be held to.

Standards created by IICRC include documentation requirements that restorers should adhere for their records, plus additional recommended documentation practices that should be captured on any project. The IICRC is a valuable resource that restorers should study, leverage, and incorporate into every part of their business to reduce risk and proactively defend their position.

5 years into my career, the phone rang and I had a very upset adjuster on the line. He informed me that our customer was claiming that we made their dog sick because of products we used in their home.

I immediately contacted our lawyer and the discussion went something like this:

Lawyer: “What products did you use in their home?”

Kris: “We used XYZ in the home and maybe ABC.”

Lawyer: *Silence* “What do you mean MAYBE?”

Kris: “My guys didn’t write down what we used, but they remember we used XYZ.”

Lawyer: “Bring your file to the office and your insurance policy.”

When I arrived at the lawyer’s office I wasn’t expecting to be chastised by the guy I was paying $300 an hour to... But in that hour I learned exactly what I needed to know before going to the next level: that I needed to follow the standard and strengthen my documentation in the event any conflicts ever arose.

I needed to start leveraging the IICRC standards to my advantage.

Documentation that is the most critical - but often missed - usually consists of any limitations, complexities, complications, and conflicts that could arise on the job. The responsibility falls on the restorer to inform the owner of anything that could impact the job, and this communication needs to be documented in detail.

Primary examples of what the restorer should inform the owner:
  • Before work begins: Disclose what complexities are expected to be encountered throughout the job before any work begins.
  • During the job: After the job has started, clearly document, and communicate any complications encountered and what is required to deal with them. These are typically changes to the scope of work that were not expected.
  • Any roadblocks: Document and communicate with the materially interested parties any limitations that may impact the job. Conflicts that arise such as an unrealistic limitation that will prevent the work from moving forward.

OSHA is not the Big Bad Wolf 🐺

If you aren’t familiar with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and its rules and regulations, you need to educate yourself. Many consider OSHA the Big Bad Wolf, but in reality, they are there to serve you, and when leveraged correctly, they can give your company a massive advantage. Remember, their goal is notem> to fine you and your company, but to encourage and teach safe work practices. Property restoration jobs often have numerous stakeholders with differing interests, and working with OSHA can be a great resource for establishing and justifying safe work procedures to execute the job.

For example: On one job, we had a crawl space that was 2 feet high, and would require workers to belly crawl in CAT 3 water. After completing assessments to determine the risk and identify hazards on site, we recommended two options: lifting the building in order to decontaminate the crawlspace, or removing the interior flooring to provide safer access to the area.

The insurance company’s adjuster and manager refused to yield to our recommendations.

Rather than backing down and jeopardizing our team’s safety, our project manager called OSHA and explained the dilemma, seeking clarification from the safety body. Fortunately for us, with our documented assessments, to back us up, OSHA agreed with the work plan that we had laid out and was prepared to enforce that plan on the job, regardless of the wants of the insurer.

Create conditions to run a lower risk and more profitable business 📈

Leveraging existing standards, regulations, and laws, will help you execute at a higher level, inherently providing your client a better service and protecting your team along the way. When you do documentation right, you’re solidifying long-term processes that will reduce the risk your company faces, creating a buffer against legal issues.

Communicating indisputable facts about the conditions of the job, and the scope of work required to complete the job, allows all parties to be on the same page. How you use different types of documentation will depend on your organization’s skill level, and the clients you serve. The premium restorers in the industry are very good at documenting their jobs using all the various forms of documentation sources available to them such as photos, video, notes, sketches, 3D imaging, remote monitoring and so on. You need to be able to prove the work you did, and why you did it, in order to get paid.

Interested in improving your documentation workflows?

Join us May 11th for a 1.5 hr, no-cost session with three restoration experts. Learn how to build easy documentation routines, convey every job's story clearly, create estimates faster, & justify your work — with data captured from the field.

Documentation 101 Live Webinar


The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)
ANSI/IICRC S500 Standard for Professional Water Damage Restoration - Fifth Edition: 2021
Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, 2015.
Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) The Basics of Water Jobs

Get complete and consistent field documentation everytime.

Learn how Encircle can help you and your field teams ease the documentation burden.