Before a new structure can be built, a number of regulations must be reviewed and followed to ensure compliance with California state and federal laws. In particular, regulations related to the environment and potential hazards are significant in that ignoring them may result in exposure to significant dangers by nature, project workers, and the greater community. And though it may seem unlikely, design professionals can be pulled into the messes of environmental hazard litigation when problems arise at their construction sites.

What are environmental hazards?

Environmental hazards take many forms. They may exist at construction sites and require removal or storage before the projects can start. They may be part of the building projects themselves and be brought to construction sites by contractors and subcontractors. When hazardous materials that pose threats to the health and safety of humans and the environment are present at construction sites, the parties involved in the project should be aware of their potential liability for accidents and injuries.

How do design professionals avoid liability for environmental hazards?

One way that design professionals can stay out of some environmental hazards’ claims is to build strong protective clauses into their agreements. Contractual protection clauses may shield design professionals to some extent but may not be enough to fully insulate them from liability.

Other options that they may pursue can include but are not limited to:

  • Working with design clients to educate them on the problem of pushing design professionals to manage environmental hazard issues in construction projects;
  • Ensuring project owners are aware of their responsibilities with regard to environmental hazards; and
  • Allowing contractors to use their own practices for managing building and hazard reduction requirements on building projects.

Environmental hazards can pose significant problems for project owners, contractors, and design professionals. Legal support from Bay Area attorneys can be an asset for those facing these challenging issues. This post is informational in content and should not be read as legal advice.