Subcontracts usually make it clear that the sub, an independent trade contractor, is responsible for determining the means and methods of achieving the work product defined in the subcontract. This encompasses not just construction techniques but also safety practices. The subcontractor is obligated to comply with certain safety standards, such as OSHA. The manner in which the sub achieves compliance is left to the sub alone.
Injured employees of subcontractors, precluded by workers compensation statutes from suing their employer, understandably search for subcontract language that creates a safety obligation on the part of the prime or general contractor. An employee of a concrete subcontractor was injured while working from a wooden “rebar tower” in windy conditions. The worker sued the prime contractor, relying on the prime’s right to schedule subcontractor work and the right to stop the work. The Texas Supreme Court rejected this argument.
The other case in this issue involved the application of a change order release to a delay claim. The government had not engaged in continuing negotiations, which would have excluded the delay claim from the release.