"Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress,
and working together is success."
- Henry Ford
In the US, workplaces take on many sizes, shapes, and settings—from small, family-owned businesses to those that employ thousands of workers at sites across the nation. At "multi-employer" workplaces, some construction sites, for example, full-time, part-time, temporary, and contract employees work together, often reporting to different employers.
All employers have an obligation to protect the health and safety of their workers. But who is responsible for protecting employees at a multi-employer worksite? OSHA has created specific rules for this situation to ensure employees are adequately protected at work. OSHA Multi-Employer Citation Policy
OSHA's 1994 Field Inspection Reference Manual first addressed "rules" for dealing with violations/violators at multi-employer worksites. The policy stated that on multi-employer worksites, inspectors may cite more than one employer for a single violation of an OSHA safety standard.
In 1999, OSHA issued a directive to clarify its policy (Directive Number CPL 2-0.124
). The directive provided several multi-employer working scenarios and defined four types of employer:
- The "exposing" employer exposes employees to hazards.
- The "creating" employer is responsible for creating the hazard.
- The "correcting" employer is responsible for correcting the hazard.
- The "controlling" employer has the authority to manage the exposing, creating, or correcting employer.
Some of the provided work scenarios were straightforward, while others were more complex and called for a two-part assessment to determine each employer's role and responsibilities. It became clear that one employer can often meet the requirements of more than one role (e.g., a "correcting" employer could also be the "exposing" employer) and that there is no easy process for assigning hazard abatement responsibility in a multi-employer work environment. Multi-Employer Injury Recordkeeping Case Study
Consider a business that employs both full-time, company-paid employees and temporary employees who regularly work alongside one other and perform the same job responsibilities. One day, a temporary employee is injured on the job and sustains a laceration requiring nine stiches to his hand. Who is responsible for completing the paperwork OSHA requires in cases of work-related injury? Is it the employer/owner of the business establishment where the employee works, or is it the staffing agency who has the employee on its payroll?
The key question is: "Who is responsible for the day-to-day supervision of the injured employee?" In this scenario, the responsibility of daily supervision belongs to the employer/owner of the business. Consequently, the owner needs to include this case on the business's OSHA injury and illness log. Read more: OSHA changes some of its recordkeeping rules late last year
and clarified its enforcement policy for injury/illness recordkeeping and reporting violations. Communication of Hazards to ALL!
Under specific OSHA standards, multi-employer worksites must meet unique requirements to protect full-time and part-time employees, subcontractors, temporary staff, and leased personnel. Below is a non-exhaustive list of worker protection standards that apply at multi-employer work sites. Hazard Communication
Per 29 CFR 1910.1200(e)(2), the lead employer at a multi-employer workplace that produces, uses, or stores hazardous chemicals must ensure that the hazard communication programs developed and implemented under 29 CFR 1910.1200(e) include the methods the lead employer will use to:
- Provide the other employer(s) access to Safety Data Sheets for each hazardous chemical employees may be exposed to while working;
- Inform the other employer(s) of any precautionary measures that need to be taken to protect employees during the workplace's normal operating conditions and in foreseeable emergencies; and
- Advise the other employer(s) of the labeling system used in the workplace.
Recently, OSHA provided guidance on managing hazard communication under the newly adopted Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for classifying and labeling chemicals. Permit-required Confined Spaces
An employer must inform a contractor that the workplace contains permit spaces, must apprise the contractor of the permit space's hazards, and must inform the contractor that permit space entry is allowed only through compliance with a permit space program meeting the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(8).
An employer who designates rescue and emergency services must inform each rescue team or service of the hazards they may encounter and must provide access to all permit spaces, so that appropriate rescue plans and practice rescue operations can be developed, per 29 CFR 1910.146(k)(1). Asbestos
Building and facility owners and employers must inform employees of asbestos-containing-material (ACM) or presumed asbestos-containing-material (PACM) with which they may come in contact while performing job duties, per 29 CFR 1910.1001(j)(3)(iii). Convenient, Effective Online OSHA Safety Training
Whether your employees work in a single employer or multi-employer workplace, effective training is critical to helping them protect themselves and their colleagues in the workplace. Interactive, easy-to-use OSHA safety online courses at Lion.com
are an effective way to train new and experienced workers on critical standards like hazard communication and lithium battery safety. For general industry worksites, the 10-Hour General Industry Online Course
focuses workers on identifying, avoiding, controlling, and preventing the injuries and incidents that cost US businesses up to $1 billion per week.