Multi Employer Relationships on the Job Site

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Safe - Con

Summary Statement

A presentation on the distribution of responsibilities and when a variety of employers are working together on a project, including the management of safety.
Feb 2001

Presented at the Construction Safety Council annual Conference, Hillside, Illinois, February 2001

Contractor Liabilities

  • The entity responsible for overall site coordination, scheduling, etc. (Controlling Contractor) may be held liable for citation under OSHA.
  • In the event of an accident multiple contractors may be held liable in Tort Liability case.

Site Safety Issues

  • Overall site safety issues are the responsibility of the Controlling Contractor.
  • If the “CC” assigns responsibilities to other contractors they must still exercise some level of control.
  • The “CC” may ultimately be held accountable in the event of an accident.

Safety in Contracts

  • Requirements to comply with all safety regulations should be in the contract.
  • Safety requirements more stringent than OSHA Standards, should be identified in the construction documents.
  • Contract should include a discipline clause and even a termination clause for noncompliance with safety.

Pre-Job Safety Planning

  • Know who each contractor’s safety representative is and communicate with them.
  • Establish responsibilities for primary safety issues.
  • Include safety in pre-construction and progress meetings
  • Establish requirements for regular safety meetings

Responsibilities of the Controlling Contractor

  • Promote safety cooperation.
  • Assure overall safety of the site.
  • Assure each contractor has MSDS’s.
  • Conduct safety audits.
  • Assist in investigations of accidents.
  • Advise contractors of unsafe practices.
  • Discipline contractors if necessary.
  • Protect the public.

Responsibilities of Individual Contractors

  • Maintain their own safety & housekeeping
  • Maintain Hazcom & MSDS’s
  • Provide trained and safe employees.
  • Follow site safety requirements.
  • Restore protections they remove.
  • Advise “CC” of unsafe conditions.
  • Advise “CC of any accident.

Types of Responsibilities

  • Overall Safety Issues

    • Safety issues that affect employees of multiple contractors

  • Individual Issues

    • Safety issues that affect only employees of that contractor.

Site Utilities - OVERALL

  • Emergency numbers and directions posted.
Diggers Hotline
All utilities located and marked.

Overhead power lines addressed

Working Around Overhead Power

Man being electrocuted when ladder hits powerline connected to house


lift hits powerline

crane hits a powerline


Site Security - OVERALL

  • Site fencing set
  • Site lighting

Traffic controls for major equipment and material deliveries







Temporary Electrical

man holding broken wire near ground



Open Outlets
Temporary Boxes



Framing, Steel & Masonry


Perimeter Protection


Hole Protection


Ladder Usage






Roofing Work


Power Tools





Fire Protection

fire extinguisher


a building on fire

Ybor City construction fire

Competent Persons

  • Needed for many activities
  • Should be supplied by contractor doing the work.
  • “CC” has an obligation to assure that a competent person is overseeing safety of specific work activities.

Accidents to the Public

  • People struck by falling objects.
  • Pedestrians hit by equipment or trucks.
  • Unauthorized people, such as children, getting into construction sites.

Protect the Public

  • Separate the public and construction.
  • Maintain site fences.
  • Provide traffic control when needed.
  • Utilize canopies over public sidewalks and screens or nets around work areas.
  • Set barricades and warning signs.

Safety Enforcement

  • The “CC” should enforce subcontractor’s safety violations.
  • When violations are noted, the offending contractor should be notified in writing.
  • If, after due diligence, the offending contractor refuses to comply, they should be removed.

Multi-employer Policy

  • OSHA may cite “Controlling Contractors” for violations not created by the “Controlling Contractor.”
  • Other employers may also be cited, whether or not their own employees are exposed.

OSHA May Cite If:

  • Employees are exposed to a hazard.
  • They created the hazard.
  • They had the responsibility or the authority to correct the hazard.
  • They knew of a hazard and did not inform others.

The Controlling Employer

  • The employer who is responsible, by contract or through actual practice, for safety and health conditions on the worksite.

The Creating Employer

  • The employer who actually creates the hazard.
  • IE. The contractor who took the guardrails down and did not protect the hazard.

The Exposing Employer

  • The employer whose employees are exposed to the hazard.
  • IE. The contractor whose employees were exposed to a fall as a result of the guardrails being down.

The Correcting Employer

  • The employer who has the responsibility for actually correcting the hazard
  • IE. The contractor who had responsibility to maintain the guardrails.

Multiple Roles

  • The same contractor may perform multiple rolls.
  • IE. The GC is controlling, they have the responsibility to maintain the guardrails and they did not either do it or assure that it was done.

Defense of M/E Citations

  • Prove that even with due diligence, you were unaware of the hazard.
  • Show that you have informed the offending employer of the hazard, that you expect it corrected and that you have followed up on your request.
  • Show that you protected your employees until the hazard was corrected.

Defense of Civil Liability

  • All of the above.
  • Confirm that subs have W/C insurance.
  • Qualify subs for safety.
  • Consider indemnification clauses in contracts.
  • Remove unsafe employees.