Pruett v. Precision Plumbing, Inc

In Pruett v. Precision Plumbing, Inc., 27 Ariz. App. 288, 293, 554 P.2d 655, 660 (1976), the employee of a plastering subcontractor who was injured while working on a construction site brought a negligence action against the landowner and general contractor. Id. at 289, 554 P.2d at 656. The injury occurred when the employee, Pruett, fell four stories from a rooftop while plastering an exterior wall accessible only from a twenty-inch wide ledge. Id. at 290, 554 P.2d at 657. To reach the top of the nine-foot wall, Pruett stood on a board fitted atop a sawhorse placed in the twenty-inch access space. Id. Although he took this action without consultation, direction, or approval from the general contractor, Pruett argued that liability should nonetheless be imposed against the landowner and general contractor under OSHA. Id. at 290-91, 554 P.2d at 657-58. The trial court disagreed and granted the defendants' motion for a directed verdict. Id. at 289, 554 P.2d at 656. On appeal, Pruett argued that the OSHA regulations imposed a nondelegable duty on the general contractor to ensure that adequate precautions were taken by all subcontractors to protect the safety of their employees. Id. at 293, 554 P.2d at 660. The Court disagreed, noting that OSHA expressly denies establishing "a cause of action for personal injuries to an employee or subcontractor." Id. Pruett also argued that even absent a duty under OSHA, OSHA regulations provide evidence of the standard of care imposed upon general contractors. Id. at 293, 554 P.2d at 660. The Court summarily rejected his argument, stating that OSHA does not "qualify as evidence of the standard of care because Arizona does not recognize non-delegable duties of independent contractors . . . and non-delegable duties for safety are the standard set by OSHA's regulations." Id.