Safety at the Site

by Virginia Fairweather, Editor in Chief; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY. 47th Street, New York, NY 10017.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1994, Vol. 64, Issue 8, Pg. 50-53

Document Type: Feature article


The engineer should not be responsible for safety at the construction site. Most standard contract documents allocate this responsibility in construction means, methods and sequences to the contractor. Nonetheless, engineers are frequently sued for damages relating to injuries at the site and must pay to defend themselves even when these cases are dismissed. Insurance brokers and attorneys tell how contract language can protect an engineering firm. New project delivery methods, such as construction management and design/build, are a gray area with regard to potential liability. Contract language is suggested for these methods. Some states have enacted legislation that preclude third party suits against engineers and architects if a defendent has accepted workers compensation. In recent years, the Office of Occupational Health and Safety, has charged engineering firms with safety violations. When the firms refused to pay the fines, they have spent significant money to defend their position. So far they have been successful. Often the engineer's client is a public agency that has sovereign immunity from suits. Some have attempted to deflect liability to the engineer, especially if there is a construction management contract. Some large firms with safety engineers on staff have devised rigorous safety programs that diminish liability.

Subject Headings: Occupational safety | Construction methods | Liability | Safety | Construction sites | Management methods | Building codes | Contractors and subcontractors

Services: Buy this book/Buy this article


Return to search