Do You Have My Back? Safety Considerations for Multiemployer Worksites
You and the person who offices next to you, or the person with whom you just shared a story in the break room, may not share the same employer. Some worksites contain a mix of workers that includes traditional employees, temporary workers placed by staffing agencies, and workers employed by contractors or subcontractors. These multiemployer worksites raise a host of issues, including worksite safety training.
Specifically, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Multi-Employer Worksite Doctrine allows the agency to cite several employers for an alleged violation at the same worksite. Likewise, in a number of cases, workers who suffer injury at a job site have filed suit against the operator of the site, even if the injured party was employed by a contractor or subcontractor.
Therefore, regardless of who employs a particular worker, it is important that each worker know and understand how his/her work and safety activities can affect the safety of other employers and workers at the worksite.
According to OSHA, the key to boosting safety at multiemployer worksites is effective communication and coordination among all employers and workers. At a minimum, effective communication and coordination among employers means that, before beginning work at a site, contractors, staffing agencies and their workers are made aware of:
the types of hazards that may be present at the worksite;
the procedures or measures they need to use to avoid or control their exposure to these hazards; and
how to contact the host employer to report an injury, illness, or incident or if they have a safety concern.
Additionally, host employers and their workers must be aware of:
the types of hazards that may arise from the work being done on-site by workers employed by contractors or staffing agencies;
the procedures or measures needed to avoid or control exposure to these hazards;
how to contact the contract or staffing firm if they have a safety concern; and
what to do in case of an emergency.
There are benefits to a multiemployer worksite, including flexibility and access to specialized skill sets. However, multiemployer worksites should ensure that all employers and workers are appropriately informed and trained so that all workers are protected against worksite hazards.