Relying On The Records

February 17, 2022
Three real-life scenarios that highlight how vital high-quality, contemporaneous records are to projects, businesses and individuals in the workforce.

Most construction professionals are well aware of the importance of contemporaneous records on projects – Usually because of a bad experience in the past, or a horror story from elsewhere in an organisation.

But if it hasn’t happened to you, it can be difficult to put into context. Where are all these piles of paperwork actually going, and what are they being used for?

Here are three real life scenarios that highlight how important high-quality, contemporaneous records are to projects, businesses and individuals in the workforce.

Scenario 1 – Compensation Event Justification

The client has received a Compensation Event (CE) detailing additional services  in an area where drainage has been laid. They want to see records proving that the services were unforeseen and to back up the cost claimed.

What records do you think should be provided to the client?

Answer to Scenario 1 – Compensation Event Justification

In this case, the best practice would be to provide as much information as possible to prove the sequence of events. There are three stages to any event:

  1. The beginning: What we planned to do
  2. The middle: What we actually did, from discovering the unforeseen services to completion of the works
  3. The end: Our as-builts/Records

In the case of Scenario 1, we should provide all three to fully explain the ‘who, what, why, where, when and how’ of the event.

The key to contemporaneous records is keeping as much evidence as possible to ensure a clear, concise and proven audit trail. This eliminates inconsistencies and minimises the risk of disallowed costs.

Records should be regularly updated, clear, concise, consistent and accurate. They must always meet the requirements set out within the contract. When using records you should always be able to compare what was planned with what actually happened, and with the evidence to back it up.

Scenario 2 – Employer’s Liability Claim

It’s Monday morning and your company has received a letter from a firm of solicitors explaining that, on a project you were on 7 years ago, an operative suffered a head injury whilst refuelling a compressor. He has named you as his supervisor at the time of the event.

He has now instructed them to pursue your company, and you personally, for damage compensation. The solicitors request full records of the event.

Your Insurance Manager has sent you a copy of the letter and asked you to provide all relevant records by Friday.

Do you know where these records are and what they contain?

Answer to Scenario 2 – Employer’s Liability Claim

Think about the situation logically. The key records you need to pull out are:

  1. Accident book
  2. Investigation report
  3. Daily allocation sheets and timesheets
  4. Site Diary
  5. Plant report
The Accident Book

The first point of call should be the accident book for the project. If the incident did happen in the way, place and time that they say it did, then the operative should have completed the accident book and you, as the Supervisor, should have checked it.

This log will provide you with a brief description of the incident, who was involved and the date. Yes, this information is more than likely written in the letter; however it is important to confirm that the incident actually happened.

However, even if the incident is not in the accident book you must check all other records available to you. The operative may not have completed the accident book (even if you instructed them to!) but may have evidence such as signed timesheets or allocation sheets proving they were there.

Investigation Report

If it is in the accident book, there may have been an investigation where records of all Inductions, Permits, Method Statements, Risk Assessments, Operative Briefings and Toolbox Talks applicable to the incident will be available. These will be vital in checking whether the operative had, at the time, undertaken the activity in line with the project requirements and his responsibilities.


Check the daily allocation sheets or weekly timesheets (depending if the operative is directly or indirectly employed) for the date in question and dates surrounding it (in case there are inaccuracies in the specific date), to ascertain if the operative was on site and, if so, where he was working and what he was doing at that time.

Site Diary

Check your diary for the incident. Your diary should contain full details of everything that occurred - even down to the weather and ground conditions at the time. More importantly, you will have recorded what action you took to resolve the incident.

The incident Report, Diary and Allocation sheets/timesheets can all be used to identify who or what else was working in the area at the time. If others were working in the area, they may also have records relating to the incident which corroborate your own. This can include anyone from other Engineers present, Foreman, Agents to Subcontractors who may have been in the area at the time and may even have been delayed due to works being stopped as a result of the incident.

Plant Report

Check the weekly Plant Report as well as the plant inspection/fit for use records. This may show that the piece of Equipment the operative was using was off-hired or repaired after the incident (i.e. was the Equipment faulty at the time).

Legally, you must provide all records that are relevant to the incident and that provide a clear and accurate timeline of the incident itself and the events surrounding it. Ensure a copy of all records are kept and a copy provided to Insurance/Legal Departments.

This highlights the importance not only of keeping records, but of storing them in such a way that they can be retrieved long after an incident. Not just to protect the Company but also to protect yourself as an individual.

Scenario 3 – Compensation Event Substantiation of Valuation

You are preparing a quotation for a CE. The works will be valued based on actual costs incurred plus your mark-up for fee. You review the scope and activities undertaken with the Sub-Agent and come up with a list of items to value. After investigation however you find that:

  • 3 of the 10 activities have not been specifically recorded, however you know that these activities must have occurred to complete the works.
  • Of the remaining 7 activities, the diaries omit to mention the services provided by your material-handling resources (Hiab, driver, signaller) and do not identify all of your plant.

What do you do?

Answer to Scenario 3 – Compensation Event Substantiation of Valuation

You should provide as much accurate and factual substantiation as possible to support your valuation.

Records which may be used to fill gaps in diaries could be:

  1. Method Statements and Risk Assessments relating to the works in question. These will help to provide some backup to the missing evidence, as will the Resource Programme for the works.
  2. Permits will have been produced for the works which will be specific to the operation; these will also provide an indication of resource envisaged to undertake the works.
  3. Morning Briefings could provide a good indication of the labour present. You can then use these to confirm their role (labourer, plant op etc...) and justify some of the Plant/Equipment costs.
  4. Subcontractor Records may also provide information on resource if they have noted others working in the same area.
  5. Photographs of the area may exist that show the resource and the works being undertaken.
  6. Any completion certificates or testing certificates/results will give an indication of the works undertaken.
  7. Weekly/Daily plant and labour sheets should note the resource and where it was working.

Ultimately, you want to provide as much relevant and accurate information as possible to mutually support the records provided and your valuation submitted. Do not include anything within your valuation which cannot be corroborated.

How Can Raildiary Help?

Raildiary offers a unique, digital site diary app which provides a crucial platform for the consistent capture and analysis of railway construction data.

This data is captured in a consistent format in accordance with industry standards and, with built-in validation tools, it results in high quality information being consistently captured across the life cycle of your project.

The information you gather is easily accessible through the dedicated project web portal allowing for fast and easy data retrieval and removing the requirement for boxes of paper and archiving costs. And, you can store it for as long as you need.

Book a product demonstration

Check out our blog post defining contemporaneous records here – The Secret to Getting Paid

Relying On The Records

Will Doyle


I am an experienced RICS chartered Quantity Surveyor​ with first-hand experience of how the consistent capture and analysis of data can transform global project delivery.

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