To Record or Not to Record: Responsibilities on a multi-employer worksite

Imagine you are installing a new process line at your facility, and a building addition to house that line. During the construction and installation, along with your employees, you may have a general contractor on site to oversee the project, subcontractors to do the wiring and other specialized work, additional subcontractors to assist the construction or demolition of the surrounding area, temporary workers to clear the land, venders on site to tell you how great their equipment is, and maybe even some visitors from corporate. With these companies and workers walking and working on your property at any given time, how do you know who is responsible for preventing injuries and accidents? And, in case there is an injury or illness, who has failed to provide a safe workplace and is not compliant with OSHA requirements?

This is a very common situation for many facilities. Identifying all the jobs and tasks, contracts, team members, and responsibilities when an accident happens is like playing a game of tag while blindfolded; everybody is running around in circles, and nobody knows where they are going or what they are doing.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Multi-Employer Policy (Directive CPL 2-0.124) identifies the types of employers present at a facility, determines the duties and responsibilities of each type of employer, and defines the level of “reasonable care” each employer is responsible for providing to their employees to ensure a safe and healthful workplace.

On these types of worksites, across all industry sectors, OSHA is able to cite more than one employer for a hazardous condition that is present if they feel that the incident could have been prevented by any number of employers or workers. In order to know which employers are citable on your worksite, you must first determine the types of employers present. Then, one must determine its obligations and requirements to meet OSHA standards. The distinct types of employers that could be present on a worksite, as well as what each employer type can do to prevent an injury or illness under is obligations, are as follows:

Employer Type Definition of Employer Type Methods of Injury/Illness Prevention
The Creating Employer The employer that caused a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard. This employer must not create hazardous conditions. This can be accomplished through Safety & Health Programs, training, and frequent inspections.
The Exposing Employer An employer whose own employees are exposed to the hazard. If a violation is created by another employer, the exposing employer can be cited if:
1) The employer knew of the hazard or failed to exercise reasonable diligence to discover the condition; and
2)   Failed to take steps within its authority to protect its employees.
The Correcting Employer An employer who is engaged in a common undertaking, on the same worksite, as the Exposing Employer and is responsible for correcting a hazard. This is usually the company hired to install or perform maintenance on particular safety or health equipment or devices. This employer must exercise “reasonable care” in preventing and discovering violations as well as meet its obligations to correct the hazards.
The Controlling Employer An employer who has general authority over the worksite, including the power to correct safety and health violations. While this employer is not typically responsible for inspecting the worksite for hazards, it is, nevertheless, responsible for exercising “reasonable care” to prevent and detect violations on site.

The factors that relate to the “reasonable care” that Correcting and Controlling Employers should take include, but are not limited to, how frequently the worksite is inspected by the employers, the training of the employees to recognize such hazards, and the implementation of safety and health programs that are more stringent than those posed by the worksite owner/operator.

As one employer can sometimes meet the criteria under more than one employer type, as defined by the Multi-Employer Policy, there is no straightforward process or a one-size-fits-all method for designating hazard recognition and abatement roles and responsibilities on a multi-employer worksite. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all safety and health programs and policies are reviewed by all employees, contractors, subcontractors, temporary workers, and even visitors. Everybody that enters your facility or conducts work on your property should be properly trained (either by one of your own representatives or internally within the hired company). It is a recommended practice that regular inspections of the employees, equipment, and worksite be conducted either by a safety representative or by a third party to help with the recognition of hazards and provide recommendations for abatement before they become a problem.

Please contact CTI if you would like to discuss how we can help with the creation and/or implementation of programs & policies, conducting inspections and training, etc. to ensure proper hazard recognition and abatement at your worksite.

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