Understanding the Multi-Employer Worksite (Part 5) - The Controlling Employer
Miller & Martin PLLC Blog | July 03, 2018
The controlling employer has general supervisory authority over the multi-employer worksite, be it by contract, be it by action or potentially be it by appearance.
The controlling employer must exercise reasonable care to detect and prevent hazards violating OSHA regulations. However, the amount of reasonable care required of the controlling employer is not as great as the duty of reasonable care an employer owes to its own employees and in many situations the controlling employer is not normally required to inspect for hazards as frequently as the other employers on the multi-employer worksite or even have the same level of expertise of the relevant standards as other employers.
As stated before, the controlling employer has a duty to inspect, prevent and detect hazards and use reasonable care. Reasonableness with regard to these duties involves evaluating factors such as (1) the scale of the project; (2) the nature and pace of the work; (3) the controlling employer’s knowledge of the safety history and practices of the other employers on the multi-employer worksite; (4) a history of non-compliance of other employers on the worksite; and (5) inspection and knowledge of the safety practices, efforts and training of the employers on the worksite.
In particular, reasonable care requires periodic inspections based on the factors set forth above. It also includes the implementation of an effective system for promptly reporting and correcting hazards, and enforcement of compliance with health and safety requirements by the other employers including additional inspections, follow up and corrective action taken related to other employers on the multi-employer worksite.
Example: In the elevated workspace example the controlling employer should inspect new areas of work for hazards such as the lack of guardrails or other appropriate fall protection. If the correcting employer has a pattern of failing to inspect and install full protection the controlling employer should enforce the safety requirements and address the correcting employer through corrective action.
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