Whether you are a general contractor or subcontractor, do you pay attention to those provisions of the contract that dictate who is responsible for the safety of your workers? If a worker is injured on the job site, the safety provisions may play a significant role in determining who is liable for the worker’s injuries.

A recent Indiana Supreme Court case addressed this very issue. In that case, a concrete subcontractor’s employee was injured when a co-worker dropped a piece of wood while removing the forming material from the concrete. The injured employee sued the construction manager, alleging that the construction manager was responsible for job site safety.

The construction manager disagreed, pointing to provisions of the contract and stated that its services were provided solely for the benefit of the owner and not for the benefit of anyone else performing work on the project. The court found it significant that while the construction manager was required to review and monitor the contractors’ safety programs, the construction manager’s obligations did not extend to direct control over the subcontractors or their employees.

Furthermore, the AIA based agreement between contractor and subcontractor placed this responsibility on the subcontractor. Specifically, the subcontractor was obligated to take reasonable safety precautions with respect to its performance under the subcontract and generally placed responsibility for employee’s safety on subcontractor.

In light of these contract provisions, the court found that the construction manager was not responsible for the subcontractor’s worker’s safety and was not liable for the worker’s injuries.

Who is reviewing your contracts from the safety standpoint? These provisions can play a significant role in determining who is responsible for worker’s injuries and it is always best to know the extent of your potential damage at the front end instead of learning about it after a lawsuit has been filed.