As many are aware, under the Privette v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 689 and Toland v. Sunland Housing (1998) 18 Cal.4th 253 ("Privette/Toland") line of cases, hirers of independent contractors are generally not liable for personal injuries sustained by an independent contractor's employees unless the hirer "affirmatively" contributed to the injury suffered by the employee of the independent contractor by either negligently exercising retained control of the work site or breaching a nondelegable legal duty.
In a recent case, commented upon in the September 2016 edition of The Morrison Law Group, Regalado v. Callaghan (2016) WL 5243287 ("Regalado"), the California Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that the owner of a single family residence, who was also a general contractor, affirmatively contributed to personal injuries to a subcontractor's employee which were caused by an explosion in an underground vault which housed a propane heater for a swimming pool. A primary claim against the hirer in Regalado was that the owner/general contractor did not obtain separate permits for the vault and propane line, nor did he have the County inspect the vault (the owner/contractor also participated in the construction work, including installation of the underground vault). Those omissions resulted in a finding of liability for the owner/general contractor on an omission theory (i.e. the failure to act "affirmatively" contributed to the accident).
However, in a decision published after Regalado - Khosh v. Staples Construction Company, Inc. (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 712 ("Khosh"), the California Second District Court of Appeal distinguished Regalado finding that summary judgment in favor of a hirer was proper where the employee's claim was based upon a failure to comply with safety laws and regulations (it also ruled that, even if the hirer had retained control, the hirer did not affirmatively contribute to the accident which caused the alleged injury).
In the Khosh case, employee Al Khosh was injured while performing electrical work at a construction project at California State University Channel Islands. He was employed by Myers Power Products, Inc., a second tier subcontractor on the project. Khosh sued the general contractor, Staples Construction Company, Inc. ("Staples") for negligence. The Court granted Staples' Motion for Summary Judgment based upon the Privette/Toland line of cases finding, among other things, that Mr. Khosh failed to establish that Staples' lack of adherence to safety regulations affirmatively contributed to the accident.