Construction contracts frequently contain boilerplate language where the contractor assures the project owner that all applicable federal, state and local regulations, including safety regulations, will be followed at the job site. Does this mean the contractor assumes responsibility for the on-site safety practices of its subcontractors? That was the contention in a recent case.
An injured employee of a subcontractor, precluded by worker’s compensation law from suing his own employer, sued the prime contractor for failing to impose or enforce safety precautions at the site. The injured worker relied – unsuccessfully, as it turned out – on broad language in the prime contract. The argument ignored the traditional division of responsibility on construction sites where each trade establishes and enforces safety procedures for its own employees.
What is your opinion on this issue? Should general contractors or construction managers, given their comprehensive authority at the job site, be responsible for imposing and enforcing uniform minimum safety practices? Or should that responsibility rest solely with the trade contractors who are most familiar with their tasks, their equipment and the safety issues that follow. I welcome your comments.
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