Workers who get injured on a property during a renovation can sue the homeowner in many instances. Don’t get blindsided by litigation. Here is a look at homeowner obligations and liability issues, best practices on construction sites and how new technology is reducing worker injuries from occurring in the first place.
Let’s say you hire a contractor for your remodel. Since the renovation is on your property, you might be responsible for a share of the liability if a worker is injured. Be aware of the following two guidelines when you decide to remodel:
- It is the homeowner’s responsibility to provide workers a fundamentally safe worksite.
- You need to check your insurance coverage and that of your contractor.
Your principle responsibility is to provide the workers with basically safe working conditions. You need to maintain your property and repair or disclose any existing dangers that you are aware of.
You also need to inspect the parts of your home and property where people will be working. Looking for hidden dangers or potential problems. Fix them or warn your contractor. If there are structural problems that aren’t plain to see, you need to warn them ahead of time.
Two examples illustrate when a warning is necessary:
- You would need to tell the painter if the foundation is crumbling. If you didn’t and the foundation problem made the porch collapse when he was painting it, you would be liable.
- On the other hand, consider the scenario where you hire workers to fix the porch. If the porch collapsed while they were working on it, you probably wouldn’t be liable. Since you hired them to repair it, they should have reasonably assumed it was dangerous and taken precautions.
Check with your insurance agent when you decide to renovate. Some, but not all, homeowner’s policies cover worker accidents.
An injury to a worker may also be covered by the contractor’s insurance or by worker’s compensation insurance. Some contractor’s also have specialty coverage that will pay in the event of an accident.
Help from Technology
Clearly, the best way to handle liability issues is to prevent accidents in the first place. That’s why advances in wearable technology for construction safety are getting so much attention in the industry.
New devices can track how a worker moves his body and monitor changes in the work environment that spell danger. For example, a wearable can track how a worker picks up a box from the ground and how it changes the alignment of his spine. With this data in hand, the worker can adjust his movements. He can learn safer methods for pending and lifting.
A supervisor can track where his workers are in real time. He can give special attention to those in high-risk areas. For example, wearables can sense and warn of voltage running through scaffolding. A timely warning can keep an electrician safe from electrocution.
Wearables can nag workers to put their safety harness on or move the ladder closer to where the task is. It heightens their awareness of their surrounding and safety best practices.
Wearables are promising a safer work environment. Meanwhile as a homeowner, be aware of your specific liability during remodeling. Keep your home in good repair, communicate problems clearly to workers and contractors and make sure your insurance adequate.