Liability in Designing for Construction Worker SafetyAuthor/Presenter: Gambatese, John A.
The construction industry has evolved from a master builder system into, predominantly, the two separate fields of design and construction. Industry organizations and state legislation have established a boundary between design and construction by defining expected scopes of work and standards of practice. Though the boundary may sometimes appear immovable, repositioning of this boundary has occurred following the development of new knowledge, technologies, and practices. One new area of knowledge that currently challenges the boundary involves construction worker safety. Specifically, new safety knowledge exposes the design professional’s significant influence on worker safety. Through this knowledge and a new design tool, designers can now participate in mitigating construction safety hazards. Addressing worker safety can affect one’s liability exposure to injured workers. Based on past legal cases and the concepts of practice standards and professional duty, failure to employ the new safety knowledge may lead to increased liability exposure for design professionals within the design-bid-build system of project delivery. As a result, the design community should consider incorporating an effort to design for construction worker safety into its scope of work. Implementation of the new safety knowledge will lead to fewer worker injuries and fatalities, and ultimately a safer construction workplace.