When Injuries Occur, Open and Obvious Dangers on Construction Sites Do Not Always Negate Liability

Generally, an owner or the person in control of property owes a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition, but this duty is subject to the “open and obvious danger rule.” O’Sullivan v. Shaw 431 Mass. 201 (2000) According to O’Sullivan, a landowner is not liable for an injury from an open and obvious danger to a person of average intelligence.

Construction sites are inherently dangerous places, and duties with respect to such a danger is can be negated because they are open and obvious. But, when the person controlling the property should anticipate that an open and obvious danger would cause an injury, the danger must be remedied. Even basic hazards such as construction debris that make a worksite unsafe should be remedied. When an employees’ advantage of encountering an open and obvious danger outweighs the apparent risk, a duty to remedy will arise. Papadopoulos v. Target Corp., 457 Mass 368 (2010)

Worksites are naturally dangerous, but that does not always negate the duty to remedy open and obvious dangers. Worksite health and safety standards, state regulations, and federal safety regulations should be adhered to at a bare minimum; reasonable precautions should be taken for even open and obvious dangers.