General Contractor Must Keep Work Conditions Safe
The general contractor is required by state law to provide a reasonably safe construction site, to warn of hazards inherent at the site, to hire employees with good safety records, coordinate job safety and supervise and ensure safety compliance throughout the job site.
Given the peculiar risks and dangers associated with construction job sites and the unchecked discretion of general contractors to control and manage the pace and manner of work, state law imposes on general contractors what is known as a non-delegable duty to maintain a safe workplace free from unreasonable risks of injury.
It is called a non-delegable duty because the general contractor may not legally delegate the responsibility away to any other person or worker, including other businesses and subcontractors. Even if the general contractor does delegate project safety to someone other then itself, the general contractor will still be held liable for the injuries and damages sustained by the worker, even if it was not caused by the general contractor.
Under OSHA the general contractor must ensure the safety and protection of all workers on a construction project, irrespective if they are employees of the general contractor or not. Said another way, the general contractor is the single source of responsibility for the safety of all employees on the job site. As such, the general contractor bears full legal responsibility for all OSHA violations.
Workers Compensation – Construction Accidents – Defective Products
Construction sites usually use dangerous tool and machinery products such as scaffolding, tractors and cranes, power tools, hoists, woodworking tools, ladders, winches, cement mixers, bulldozers, graters, scrapers, forklifts, pressure vessels, gas detectors and other types of common construction equipment.
In most situations, injured workers receive Workers Compensation insurance benefits regardless of fault. Because Workers Compensation benefits act as a type of insurance, it precludes the employee from suing the employer for the injuries and disabilities sustained at work. Most states require employers to purchase Workers Compensation insurance for their employees. In this regard, there are specific Workers Compensation insurance companies that specialize in covering construction work accidents and fatalities.
Third-Party Liability – Construction Cases
Even though employers are liable for employee work accidents occurring within the course of their employment, the worker can still legally pursue injury claims against a non-employer third-party. For example, if a construction worker was working on the employer’s jobsite using a defective jackhammer and was injured as a result of the defect, the worker may still pursue his legal claims against the manufacturer and supplier of the defective product as well as the employer under Workers Compensation. The employers insurance company will likely claim a set-off from the responsible third-party manufacturer where applicable. In this context the employer insurance company becomes an intervening party against the manufacturer or supplier.