Construction Law

A Deadly Fall Highlights Common Safety and Employment Legal Concerns in the Construction Industry featured image

A Deadly Fall Highlights Common Safety and Employment Legal Concerns in the Construction Industry

A young worker has died after plummeting 120 feet on a construction site in Nashville. The 16-year-old worker was a part-time employee for a subcontractor on a new hotel project. No safety harness was found on either the worker or the scaffolding from which they fell. This tragic incident highlights several safety and employment legal concerns that constantly weigh on the minds of construction professionals. 

In this article, we discuss how contractors can mitigate these legal threats and safety concerns on their jobsites. If you are at all concerned about the safety of your workers, consult a Chattanooga contractor attorney with Cotney Attorneys & Consultants. 

State and Federal Child Labor Laws  

Young workers are the future of the construction industry, and this incident should not discourage construction companies from pursuing young workers and hiring members of Gen Z. With that being said, employers must be mindful of the strict child labor laws that come into play when employing workers under the age of 18. Tennessee employers must be mindful of not only federal law but Tennesse’s child labor protections as well. Consult one of our Chattanooga contractor attorneys to ensure that your workplace is compliant with state and federal laws. 

Related: Child Labor Laws and Construction 

General Contractor Responsibilities

General contractors can be cited for subcontractor negligence. This is outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) multi-employer citation policy. Under this policy, OSHA can cite more than one employer for a hazardous condition that violates OSHA standards, meaning that you can be cited for a hazardous condition that did not affect any of your own employees. In the construction industry, the general contractor is usually considered the “controlling employer,” responsible for supervising the worksite. Even though it was the subcontractor who failed to ensure that their employee was wearing the proper fall protection, the general contractor could be cited for failing to detect and prevent a violation. 

Related: Scared Straight: OSHA Edition

Fall Protection Requirements 

We arrive at what is perhaps the most important takeaway from this tragic event: the need for fall protection. Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, which is why they are at the top of OSHA’s “fatal four” list. It is your responsibility as an employer to ensure that your workers are equipped with and using the proper fall protection equipment when working at our above six feet. Had the young worker been wearing a harness, or had there been perimeter protection, this accident may have been prevented. To ensure your compliance with fall protection requirements and the other laws described throughout this article, schedule a consultation with a lawyer at Cotney Attorneys & Consultants. 

If you would like to speak with a Chattanooga contractor attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.