When Is A Construction Contractor Liable For Injuries From Accidents?

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Liability for accident-related injuries on construction sites can occur for different reasons. It may be from defective machinery, improper operation of the machinery, or poor training in the operation of machinery or equipment. Liability may arise from a single factor or a combination of these factors.

Defective machinery

Whether injuries are caused by known or unknown defects, liability may lie with the owner of the machinery, the company for whom the operator is employed, or the general contractor that provides insurance for the entire construction site. If there is an issue with a manufacturer's defect or a design flaw, the manufacturer may also be liable.

Broken or defective safety features such as lights, horns, back-up warning tones, seat belts and harnesses on moving machinery can be factors in determining liability in construction machinery accidents.

Improper operation of equipment and machinery

If machinery or other equipment is adapted to perform tasks more quickly without safety considerations, or to perform actions for which the equipment is not designed, there is liability for accidents that occur because of the adaptations.

When safety equipment such as belt or chain guards are removed, operators or those in close proximity can be hurt or killed by belts or chains that snap under duress.

Lack of training

Training in the safe operation of machinery is paramount in reducing injuries and death from accidents on construction sites. Operators must be able to use equipment in a safe manner and be familiar with working under adverse conditions, such as extreme temperatures and dusty conditions that may inhibit their operating skills and visibility.

Operating moving machinery over rugged uneven terrain requires training and experience in avoiding collisions with other machines or workers, as the machines bump and sway and visibility is impaired by mounds of dirt and building materials.

Working with cranes requires knowledge of hand signals that indicate the actions  to be performed, so workers will not be struck by falling debris or a load that swings from the cable that is lifting it into position.

Personal safety equipment

Personal safety equipment such as hardhats, safety glasses, and harnesses for working in high places must be provided and their use must be enforced as a disciplinary issue. All equipment must be free of defects and conform to local ordinances.

If a worker is injured while violating company and work site rules by not using mandated safety equipment, liability may still fall on the company for whom they are employed, or the general contractor that must provide insurance coverage, or both, for not enforcing safety equipment use adequately. Enforcement must include substantial penalties, including termination, for employees who don't use mandated safety equipment.

If you have been injured in a construction accident, you must consult with a personal injury attorney in your province to determine if local or national ordinances have been followed and compensation can be provided for your injuries.