Mutli-employer worksites have a tendency to muddle labor law compliance and breed difficult scenarios. Having employees from multiple employers, commonplace in the construction and manufacturing industries, is popping up in other industries with the increasing use of contractors, consultants and temporary workers. With the changing dynamics of the marketplace, OSHA has turned an increased focus to multi-employer sites and the issues that arise from these complex situations

Learn about the four OSHA’s Multi-Employer Citation Policy
With OSHA shifting more of its attention on multi-employer job-sites, what actions and tools are available for controlling employers to help them mitigate their liability? And in the unfortunate event of an OSHA citation, what action can the controlling employer take to proactively bolster their defense?

Mitigating Liability

A large portion of the liability can be avoided upfront with proper pre-hire risk management strategies. A controlling employer should consider the following factors before selecting or hiring subcontractors:

  • Work History
  • OSHA Safety Report Card and other Safety Documents
  • Safety Programs and Policies
  • Substance Abuse Programs

A common strategy is to incorporate safety-oriented provisions into the subcontractor’s agreement for service.
These may include:

  • Scope of work
  • Duty to comply with Federal, State, and Local Health and Safety Requirements
  • Duty to comply with all of the Employer’s requirements that are beyond the minimum OSHA Requirements

After a subcontractor is hired, contractors should consider other ways to address risks posed by the actual work as it unfolds. The first step is to establish a management program that includes a dedicated safety effort and comprehensive safety management system enabling the effectiveness of the program (we can help with that). The second step is to clearly communicate that safety will not be compromised for production. Emphasize this message with the following actions:

  • Robust Site Orientations
  • Job Hazard Analysis
  • Daily Safety Inspections / Observations (Integrate Contractors within Shared System)
  • Subcontractor Safety and “All Hands” Meetings on Weekly Basis
  • Flow Down and Involvement of Inspection/Audit Process with Subcontractors
  • Scheduled Program Audits along with Periodic Work Practice Assessments

Affirmative Defense

In the unfortunate event that OSHA finds a violation at your site, a controlling employer shall not be considered citable for a violation if the employer can demonstrate that, as of the time of the violation, all of the following conditions were met:

  1. The employer took reasonable steps to prevent reasonably anticipated violations from occurring by doing all of the following:
    • Before allowing a subcontractor to begin work for the first time on the project, conducting a review of their procedures for preventing the occurrence of or controlling serious hazards reasonably anticipated in connection with their work.
    • Inspecting the worksite at least once per work week for serious hazards during all periods when the worksite is active, and documenting the inspections and corrective measures.
    • Coordinating the work to prevent, to the extent practicable, exposure of all workers and contractors at the site to serious hazards.
    • Requiring all employers engaged in high-hazard operations to comply with requirements to utilize a competent person to conduct inspections of those operations
  2. If the controlling employer knew of the hazardous condition, the controlling employer did all of the following as soon as practicable upon discovering or being notified of it:
    • Took all practicable steps to make sure that employees would not be exposed to the hazardous condition.
    • If the hazard was not immediately corrected, notified all employers with employees likely to be exposed to the hazard of the presence of the hazardous condition.
    • Notified the creating and correcting employers, if applicable, of the need for corrective measures.
    • Verified and documented that effective measures were implemented to correct the identified hazards.
  3. The employer documented compliance with the procedures and made the documentation available to OSHA. Again, it’s kind of what we do.

Mitigating Liability as a Controlling Employer

If you follow the aforementioned steps…

you will have reduced your liability as a controlling employer and built a solid foundation for a defense against an OSHA citation. Safety Indicators can proactively help you with these steps in real time with our cloud-based solution. Want to cut down on workplace hazards, reduce your liability and save money?

Learn How



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