Construction Law: General Contractor Duties & Responsibilities

Washington law holds that a general contractor has a non-delegable duty to assure safety on a job site, and has the ultimate responsibility for job safety and health at the job site. Most construction work projects have a general contractor that hires and supervises specialty subcontractors.  This arises from a 1990 Washington State Supreme Court decision in Stute v. PMBC, which is well summarized and explained by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries in the following directive: https://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Rules/Policies/PDFs/WRD2700.pdf

General contractors, pursuant to Stute, are on notice that they may be held legally liable for damages in a civil law suit if employees of subcontractors are allowed to perform their work without necessary safety equipment, or in any manner which violates the requirements of administrative regulations codified under the authority of the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act. Stute has created a heightened awareness of safety in the construction industry in Washington, and more stringent oversight by those who are in the best position to control the work site – the general contractors. A general contractor in Washington who does not have a strong working knowledge of applicable safety regulations, and who fails to provide safety equipment and rigorously enforce regulations, faces the very strong likelihood of a civil law suit for damages in the event of the injury or death of a worker in the employment of any other contractor on the job site.

If you need to speak with an attorney on any potential construction site injury or death claim, give us a call and we can schedule a free consultation.

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