Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 3474 17
R. Nairn - B. Wheeler - M. Tzaferis
  • Negligence
  • Transfer of costs

A worker of a subcontractor at a construction site slipped and fell on ice while walking between two buildings on March 2013. The Board transferred the costs of the claim from the subcontractor to the general contractor. The general contractor appealed.

The general contractor was responsible for providing appropriate access and egress throughout the construction site, including responsibility for keeping those access and egress routes clear of ice and snow. In transferring the costs of the claim to the general contractor, the Board appears to have taken the position that the general contractor was responsible for clearing and maintaining the entire construction site. However, the Panel found that, given the 65-acre size of the site, it would have been virtually impossible, and largely unnecessary, to clear and maintain that vast area.
The general contractor acted reasonably when, in consultation with all of the subcontractors, it developed access and egress routes throughout the site. The general contractor kept those designated routes safe and clear. All of the subcontactors and their workers were aware of the designated routes and that failure to follow those routes could result in discipline.
The worker was injured when he slipped and fell on ice while taking a shortcut between two buildings over an undesignated route, which had not been cleared of ice and snow.
The Panel concluded that the actions of the general contractor did not fall below the required standard of care. The worker's injury was not the result of any act or omission by the general contractor but, rather, from the worker's decision to use an undesignated route. Since the general contractor was not negligent, the costs of the claim should remain with the worker's employer.
The appeal was allowed.