Construction & Liability
Construction sites can be dangerous. Accidents can happen not only to construction workers, but also to members of the general public who are nearby. Regulations and industry guidelines require that all persons affected by construction work activities must be reasonably protected from injuries at all times.
Construction Site Hazards
Construction sites continually change. Work items are completed, new work items are started, and weather occurs. Everyone on or near the jobsite can be affected by these changes.
Evolving construction site hazards must be addressed. Foreseeable safety issues include maintaining means of egress walkways and work areas; maintaining temporary construction fences to separate the public from the construction site; staging construction materials in an appropriate manner / location; covering, filling or guarding holes and gaps; removing or guarding temporary construction elements that are no longer being used; ventilating or containing fumes and noxious gases; maintaining general housekeeping and removing debris; segregating or managing work activities that produce mud; and preventing or removing ice that forms under winter conditions, all of which could cause slip and fall hazards in work areas.
There is a national expectation that construction worksites should be as safe as is practicable. In conformance with the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970, OSHA regulations, and the OSHA Multi-Employer Worksite policy, safety at a construction site is the collective responsibility off all contractors on the jobsite. However, different entities can have different levels of responsibility.
Separate and independent from OSHA, the construction industry provides safety guidance. American Institute of Architects Document A201, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, states that the general contractor is responsible for initiating, maintaining and supervising safety precautions and programs and is responsible to take reasonable precautions for safety and to provide reasonable protection to prevent injury to employees and other persons who may be affected thereby. Subcontractors are responsible to the general contractor for the safe performance of their portions of the work.
Similarly, American Society of Civil Engineers Quality in the Constructed Project, A Guide for Owners, Designers, and Constructors states that the general contractor is responsible for managing and maintaining jobsite safety. The subcontractors are responsible for supporting and complying with the constructor’s job site safety program. In conformance with construction industry practice, both general contractors and subcontractors have responsibility for safety at a construction site.
Safety of the General Public
Safety on a construction project includes not only safety of construction workers but also safety of the general public and other workers / employees who may be affected by construction operations. American National Standard, ANSI / ASSE A10.34-2001, Protection of the Public on or Adjacent to Construction Sites – American National Standard for Construction and Demolition Operations states that the general contractor is responsible to ensure that the subcontractors take appropriate actions to protect the public.
Further, Chapter 33, Safeguards During Construction, of the International Building Code states that both pedestrians and adjacent public and private properties shall be protected during construction, remodeling and demolition activities. In conformance with safe engineering practice the contractors on a jobsite are responsible for the safety of non-construction persons who may be affected by their construction work activities.
Overall safety on the jobsite must be maintained. Some construction site hazards may be reasonably discernible and able to be avoided, while some construction site hazards may be camouflaged or otherwise hidden.
Workers and even the general public have a duty to be attentive to their surroundings. In addition to the individual’s responsibilities, the contractors on a construction site must also provide reasonable jobsite safety to their workers and to the public to protect them from any adverse effects of a construction project. CESI has credentialed professionals with knowledge and experience in construction and with construction codes and practices.
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