Woman is Injured by Unmarked Construction Site

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on October 10, 2017

Construction Expert WitnessThis case takes place in South Carolina and involves the construction of a new water main through a section of land adjacent to a lake front. The construction firm hired to install the new water main had dug a large trench near the lake in order to lay sections of piping for the water main. On the date of the incident, the construction workers had ended their work for the day and went home. Some time immediately after dark, the Plaintiff – a woman who had spent the day relaxing by the lake – crossed into the construction site on her way back to her car. The construction site lacked any barriers, warnings, or demarcations indicating the presence of the trench to passers-by. As a result, the plaintiff was unaware of the trench’s presence, and fell into the open hole in the ground. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff suffered permanent and debilitating injuries, and will require a lifetime of ongoing care.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. What are the standards for identifying an active construction site?

Expert Witness Response E-000453

There are standards of care which apply to this case which go beyond OSHA, particularly if the property is within the limits of the township that ordered the construction. It comes down to the issues of risk and access. The contractor is responsible for providing protection of the excavation from public access by any number of means and methods including warning signs, barriers, blinking lights on barricades, and others. The proper methods needed to secure the site of course depend upon the circumstances at the time of the accident. Effectively, the contractor owns the excavation and assumes all risks associated with public access. I’m sure the language within the contract between the township and the construction firm has protection clauses which places the risk of loss clearly with the contractor. Regardless, the lack of warnings and / or barriers in this case represents a clear threat to anyone who would be traveling around the construction site.

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