This week, I’m pleased to welcome David DeVita, a safety expert with 20 years of experience, from Carolina Safety Consultants.
Recently I had a friend fall walking near a construction zone while carrying a case of water to her coffee shop. She tripped over one of the construction sign legs that was sticking out beyond the construction cone and fencing, but she was not walking in the construction zone. When she fell, my friend broke her knee cap in five places. The contractor doing the work was working for the city at the time.
Who should be held liable, if anyone?
Points to Ponder:
It is the contractor’s responsibility to create a work area and zone free from hazards that could cause injury or harm to persons or property. Furthermore, if those hazards cannot be eliminated, then the contactor must create a barrier between those hazards, workers, and the general public.
The city was the “general contractor” and owner of this project. Thus they should have a responsibility to ensure the subcontractors they hire are working safely and create that safety barrier between the public and the hazards.
It is reasonable to expect that the general public assume these contractors doing the work are adequately protecting the public from serious injury or harm.
A Safety Consultant's Opinion:
After having worked in the safety industry for over 21 years, 14 of which were with 2 major insurance companies. I can say that the courts in most areas would hold at least the contractor liable for this accident and serious painful injury. In addition, it is in my opinion, that the city should also be held liable for this accident, for not adequately monitoring this jobsite for safety issues and violations.
In too many cases, I see general contractors and municipalities too often want to wash their hands of their subs safety violations. OSHA in many states will hold those people liable as well as the creator of the safety hazard liable for these violations.
I welcome any and all responses to this case study to explore what your actual experiences have been or your opinion of this matter.