Site Safety: Rights, Risks, and Responsibilities

by Thomas W. Smith, III, (A.M.ASCE), General Counsel; ASCE, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1998, Vol. 68, Issue 5, Pg. 55-57

Document Type: Feature article


Construction site accidents are all-too-common occurrences that claim lives and cause numerous injuries every year. For accidents that result from unsafe conditions on the site, the question of who to blame usually centers on who had responsibility for safety at the site—and injured parties sometimes argue that the engineer should have prevented an unsafe condition. Recent court cases highlight the way the courts interpret and give weight to contract documents, actions at the site and other factors to decide if engineers can be held liable for construction accidents. In general, specific contract language allocating responsibility elsewhere and knowledge of how courts may interpret his or her actions on site will protect an engineer.

Subject Headings: Construction sites | Safety | Risk management | Court decisions | Occupational safety | Accidents | Contracts | Claims

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