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Subcontractors, OSHA, and You


06/04/19 – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has determined that everyone is responsible for safety under the current OSHA Field Operations Manual (FOM), “On multi-employer worksites, more than one employer may be cited for a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard.” (Multi-Employer Citation Policy). That is why it’s incredibly important to understand how OSHA determines responsibility of hazard control, because as a general contractor, the responsibility of the entire jobsite is yours. OSHA follows a two-step process to determine whether to cite more than one employer.


Step One:

Determine whether the employer is a creating, exposing, correcting or controlling employer.


Step Two:

If an employer falls into one of the above categories, they have obligations with respect to OSHA requirements and it must be determined if the employer’s actions were sufficient to meet those obligations.


General contractors tend to assume that a signed contract, which usually assigns all employee safety responsibilities to the subcontractor, covers all liabilities. However, there are several factors that OSHA considers when making a determination, and even if a contract spells out that a particular subcontractor is solely responsible, OSHA may not see it that way….even for hazards encountered only by the subcontractor’s employees.

Some contractors even unintentionally increase their OSHA liability exposure for subcontractor’s safety violations if they:


Any facility or contractor planning to use a subcontractor should develop a formal prequalification process with benchmarks that you establish as acceptable requirements to perform the work you are subbing out. The following criteria are good starting points for determination:


Once the subcontractor has been chosen, employers should consider additional ways to address risks posed throughout the day was work unfolds. Provide leadership by setting positive examples and clearly communicate that safety will not be compromised for production.


When it comes to emphasizing jobsite safety:


Reactive steps should also be taken in order to prevent reoccurrences. Write up safety violations, back-charge for violations that the general contractor corrects, implement a progressive monetary penalty system for repeat violations, shut down work for noncompliance or dangerous work activities, and suspend or terminate the contract for repeated issues.


Managing subcontractors can seem like a liability nightmare, but protecting your company is as vital as protecting the employees. Select subcontractors who show that they value the importance of safety on and off the jobsite, and you won’t find yourself guessing who is responsible.

Posted by in Blog, Property & Casualty, Safety

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