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Role of the Project Manager or Project Superintendent

The Role of the Construction Site Project Manager or Superintendent

Important concepts that your lawyer should pursue in establishing fault on the General Contractor in a construction accident

Construction sites have one person in charge. That man or woman is the “captain of the ship”. I will refer to the person as the PS.

The PS is the single source of responsibility. That person represents the General Contractor. The duties and roles of a Project Superintendent, or sometimes designated as the Project Manager consist of:

  • Knowledge of the company safety manual
  • Knowledge of the OSHA requirements
  • A presence on the job site every day
  • Knowledge of a property owner’s safety policies (the owner is a separate entity from the General Contractor)
  • Conduct weekly safety meetings with all subcontractors on site
  • Initiate, maintain and supervise safety on the job site
  • Visual inspections of the subcontractors’ work and whether a subcontractor is following safety standards in performing its work
  • Correcting safety issues as they are seen
  • Inquire of subcontractors what safety practices are going to be used
  • Knowledge of a site specific safety plan
  • Knowledge of a job hazard analysis
  • Knowledge of the progress of work being performed

The above is not a complete list but touches upon the most important duties. Another issue is whether the PS has a construction supervisor’s license during the pendency of the project. A license may or may not have a bearing on the acts of negligence, but if the person in charge was not properly credentialed it will be a concern to the insurance company.

Of even more significance is probing in a deposition what knowledge the PS has of vital OSHA regulations. A plaintiff’s construction accident attorney should go through those regulations with some degree of specificity to assess the knowledge of the General Contractor’s representative. If such a person is unfamiliar with relevant and crucial OSHA regulations your lawyer would have successfully challenged the competency and credibility of the General Contractor’s representative.

The owner of the property, the entity for whom the project was being conducted, may have its own requirements and standards that the owner of the project (who is not the general contractor) wants followed. Is there a record of those requirements being communicated to the general contractor? Indeed, such a record should exist in the documents of the owner as well as the General Contractor. But it’s not just documents. It is also any meetings between the owner and General Contractor whereby the owner conveys its expectations for safety and adherence to its safety requirements. Obviously if those expectations have been reduced to writing, that is very good. But even if they weren’t reduced by writing, if they were merely conveyed orally, a thorough cross-examination of any parties who were privy to those conversations should yield helpful information.

In the next blog, I will focus on documents that your lawyer should obtain to help establish the expectations for safety on the construction site. These documents will have an added benefit because almost always they will not include the injured employee so he/her is less likely to be held responsible for his/her own accident.

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