After successfully bidding on a project, perhaps one of the last things on your mind is who is responsible for implementing or maintaining the safety precautions on the worksite. This is especially true if you are a trade that does not begin working on the project until it nears completion. But, if someone claims injury because of exposure to pollutants from the worksite, whose fault is it?

Perhaps a hypothetical better explains this situation. Let’s assume you are a subcontractor on a hospital renovation project. There will be demolition, framing, electrical, plumbing, drywall, painting, and flooring work on this project. But who is responsible to make sure the area is properly vented so that dust and fumes do not spread around the entire hospital?

If you are a drywall contractor, one would assume that the necessary poly temporary walls were in place well before you start hanging and finishing the sheetrock, especially given the other trades that have been working on the project. But, if a hospital employee claims to have been injured because he inhaled fumes or dust from the construction project, the general contractor and various subcontractors may start pointing the finger at each other about who was responsible for venting and temporary wall placement.

The time to figure out your responsibilities for securing the worksite is not after the hospital employee makes his claim. Nor is this the time to seek a clarification from the general contractor that drafted the contract. As we recommend time and time again on this blog, make sure you read and understand all of the terms of your contract before you sign it, let alone before you start work.