Who’s Liable on a Multi-Employer Worksite? - Worksite Medical
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In multi-employer worksites, such as construction projects, where multiple employers like general contractors, subcontractors, and others have workers on-site, determining responsibility for workplace safety violations can be difficult.

OSHA has a specific policy that outlines the roles and obligations of each employer, simplifying the process and ensuring that all parties understand their responsibilities for maintaining safety.

This policy clarifies the responsibilities of each employer, helping to prevent confusion and ensure that all employers are held accountable for their actions in maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.

Let’s break it down.


Related Article: Breaking Down the On-Site OSHA Inspection Process

Related Article: OSHA CITATIONS: How to Respond as an Employer


Citations on a Job Site with Multiple Employers?


Staying on top of safety and health hazards on a job site is a daily task for employers.

On multi-employer job sites, however, understanding safety responsibilities becomes even more complicated.

According to OSHA’s Multi-employer Citation Policy, multiple employers on a single job site can be cited for a single violation.

A “multi-employer” worksite is where employees, whether they are full-time, temporary, or contract, report to different employers who work on-site together.

This commonly occurs on large construction sites with several teams comprised of general contractors and subcontractors.

In Summary:

  • More than one employer on a jobsite with multiple employers can be cited for a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard.
  • Any employer that exposes an employee to hazards created by unsafe conditions may be subject to a citation, even if that employer did not create the hazard on the jobsite.
  • An employer can be cited for an OSHA violation even if its own employees are not exposed to a hazard, if that same employer qualifies as a controlling, correcting, or creating employer.
  • See OSHA Instruction on Multi-Employer Citation Policy [CPL 2-00.124].


Categories of Employers on a Multi-Employer Worksite


Multi-employer work sites can be difficult to regulate, and it can be hard for employers to know the exact parameters of their specific compliance responsibilities.

OSHA has a method for determining each employer’s responsibilities.

When a violation occurs, inspectors group employers into one of four categories:

  • the Creating Employer,
  • the Exposing Employer,
  • the Correcting Employer,
  • the Controlling Employer.

Additionally, it’s possible for a single employer to fit into one or more of these groups.


The Creating Employer


As the name might suggest, the creating employer is liable when they cause a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard.

This employer can be cited even if the affected employees do not report to them.


The Exposing Employer 


The multi-employer citation policy defines an exposing employer as an “employer whose own employees are exposed to the hazard.”

Even if the hazard was caused by another employer, the exposing employer can still be cited if they knew about the hazard in question or failed to “exercise reasonable diligence” to discover it.

Citations may also occur if the employer fails to protect employees under the authority of his/her role.

‘Exposing employers’ citations often occur for failing to:

  • Ask creating or controlling employer to correct the hazard;
  • inform employees of the hazard;
  • take protective measures against the hazard;
  • and, remove employees to correct an imminent hazard


The Correcting Employer 


The correcting employer is responsible for installing or maintaining safety equipment on the job site.

If this employer is working with the exposing employer, and fails to take reasonable care in discovering, preventing, and correcting violations, he/she can be cited. 


Controlling Employer


The multi-employer citation policy defines a controlling employer as one “who has general supervisory authority over the worksite, including the power to correct safety and health violations itself or require others to correct them.”

Usually, the controlling employer role is established by a contract between the multiple employers.

Reasonable care is expected from the controlling employer to prevent and detect violations. However, a controlling employer is not usually required to have the same level of day-to-day involvement as an employer would over its own employees.

Depending on certain factors, controlling employers do not have to inspect the worksite as frequently, and do not have to have the same knowledge of standards as their hired employers.

Companies engaged in multi-employer worksites endure a much wider scope of potential liability.


How OSHA Determines Whether More Than One Employer May Be Cited For A Workplace Hazard


  1. By determining the role of the employer: whether the employer is a “creating, exposing, correcting, or controlling” employer.
  2. By determining whether the employer met their obligations: with respect to OSHA requirements, the extent of an employer’s obligations vary depending on their role on the jobsite [as a creating, exposing, correcting, or controlling employer].


Key Takeaways


Employers should be aware that they can be held responsible for hazards at a worksite, even if they did not create them or if their employees were never exposed to them.

OSHA’s multi-employer citation policy mandates that employers take proactive measures to identify and remediate hazards, regardless of their origin or exposure.

This policy emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive safety and health program, where employers are responsible for ensuring a safe and healthful work environment for all employees, not just their own.

In essence, an employer’s duty to address hazards at a worksite likely extends further than they may initially assume, requiring vigilance and proactive measures to maintain a safe and healthful workplace.


Stay In Compliance With Worksite Medical


In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.

Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.

Additionally, we conduct drug & alcohol screenings, on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.

With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.

Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.

Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote.

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