Construction Accident Lawyer in McHenry County, Chicago
Robert Hanaford is a McHenry County construction accident attorney who has extensive experience both defending construction companies and representing injured construction workers or their families in wrongful death caused by construction negligence and OSHA violations, including roof collapses, electrocution, falls from height and the collapse of scaffolding and flooring supports. An attorney since 1982, Robert Hanaford has represented construction injury clients throughout Illinois, the Chicago area, Northwest Chicago Suburbs, including McHenry and LaSalle Counties and Crystal Lake. Other lawyers have trusted Robert Hanaford by referring construction injury cases to him. Robert Hanaford can be reached 24/7 on his cell phone at 312-636-4807.
Construction sites are inherently dangerous because there are multiple construction trades working on the site and failure to safely coordinate the work between the trades can cause a dangerous work environment. Coordination and oversite of the general aspects of construction work usually is the duty of the general contractor while control over the specific details of the work are usually the duty of the particular trade involved, whether, for example, electricians, iron workers, carpenters or pipe fitters. However, controlling construction law in Illinois holds that more than one construction entity can have control over safety at the jobsite. Indeed, construction site safety is every contractors concern.
General Applicable Construction Standards
The purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is to protect all workers.
Under OSHA 29 CFR 1926.21(e)(2) it is stated that the employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to this his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury. The fact that OSHA recognizes that several construction entities may be “employers” on a construction site is known as the multi-employer policy. The concept is explained below.
Under OSHA an employer is a party who controls the work site, creates hazards for his/her own or other employees, exposes his/her or someone else’s employees to a hazard, or who has specific responsibility for correcting hazards on this work site. CPL 2-0.124 Multi-employer Worksite Policy. The following is the multi-employer citation policy: Multi-employer Worksites. On multi-employer worksites (in all industry sectors) more than one employer may be citable for a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard.
Significantly, an “Employer” under OSHA is not necessarily the employer of the employee who was injured or killed. OSHA recognizes controlling employers, creating employers, exposing employers and correcting employers. The employer's role, not its job title, determines whether the employer meets the criteria of a creating, controlling, exposing, or correcting employer.
Electrical Hazards Under OSHA
Federal Law, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, “OSHA” required the following under 29 CFR 1926.416(a)(1): No employer shall permit an employee to work in such proximity to any part of an electric power circuit that the employee could Contact the electric power circuit in the course of work, unless the employee is protected against electric shock by deenergizing the circuit and grounding it effectively by insulation or other means.
OSHA 29 CFR 1926.417(b) provides that: “Equipment or Circuits that are deenergized shall be rendered inoperative and shall have tags attached at all points where such circuits can be energized.” These two provisions are commonly referred to as “lockout and tagout” procedures. These OSHA regulations are incorporated into standard “lockout and tagout procedures used regularly as part of the custom and practice in the construction industry.
Therefore, depending on a contractor and/or owner’s activities at the construction site and their contractual obligations, both could be cited for violations of OSHA regulations as well as customs and practices within the construction industry if failing to implement a safety program requiring lockout tag out at the circuit for electrical systems. For example, HVAC units, equipment or other energized systems may have an on-off switch at the unit source, but have a circuit that could be locked out preventing activation of the HVAC unit or other system.
The terms of typical construction contracts between an owner and general contractor require the general contractor to perform and provide everything required to complete the work, without limitation, all supervision, labor materials, etc. in strict accordance with the owner’s specifications and applicable federal, state and local laws, statutes and ordinances and regulations, including, but not limited to OSHA. Therefore, OSHA regulations could contractually and by statute apply to the owner and the general contractor.
Therefore, multiple contractors may be required to ensure that lockout and tagout procedures (Or other OSHA Standards) be followed by their employees. Under OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.147.(f)(2)(i), “when outside personnel are engaged in activities by the scope and application of this standard, the on-site employer and outside employer shall inform each other of their respective lockout/tagout procedures. Under this OSHA regulation, and under the standard of care in the industry, other contractors and owners may be responsible to ensure that the lockout/tagout procedure implemented by an electrical contractor is just as protective as the program utilized for their own employees.
Factors to Consider
Attorneys in construction injury cases must have extensive knowledge of OSHA construction regulations and the custom and practice on construction sites. The general contractor, owner and other sub-contractors will of course argue that it was the injured employer’s duty to ensure the safety of its own employee with regard to the work of the particular sub-contractor. While the employer is often times at fault, that fault may be shared by others having control over some aspect of the work and the ability to stop work if there is an unsafe condition. Consider both the contractual obligations, actual work on site by the contractor, presence at the jobsite, ability to stop the work if an unsafe condition, ability to direct and coordinate the work and whether the other participants on a jobsite understood the details of the work being performed.