Navigating a Multi-Employer Worksite
Cal/OSHA recently fined a warehouse owner and its temporary staffing contractor for dozens of violations discovered in warehousing operations. This case provides a vivid--and expensive--example of how multiple employers can be affected when safety is neglected at a worksite.
Construction sites are probably the most common type of worksite where employees from multiple companies work alongside each other. But while construction projects are the most common multi-employer worksites, they're not the only ones. For example, multiple employers can be implicated when it comes to the safety of office building cleaning crews, delivery truck drivers, and as in the Cal/OSHA case, temporary staffing agencies.
Safety on a multi-employer worksite is a joint responsibility among all of the employers--and the actions of one employer can result in citations for the other employers if they aren't proactive. Here are some things you can do to help protect yourself and your employees on a multi-employer worksite.
- Know your contract: Contracts often spell out certain safety responsibilities. Make sure you know how the contract allocates responsibility for safety, whether it's defining who provides which personal protective equipment (PPE), who is responsible for safety briefings, or other obligations. Satisfy your duties according to the contract, and insist that other parties do the same.
Be aware, though, that following or enforcing a contract is not enough to prevent a Cal/OSHA citation. Cal/OSHA bases its citations on regulations, not contracts, so make sure you take note not only of what's in the contract but also the regulatory requirements.
- Know what your employees are walking into: It's difficult to keep employees safe if you don't know the environment you're sending them into. If you have employees working off-site, you should take the time and effort to actually look at their worksites. When you find safety issues that could affect your employees, work with the other employer to correct them.
- Talk with your employees: Take the time to discuss how things are going with your employees working with other employers, especially if they are working without a supervisor on-site daily. Do they feel there are safety issues on the worksite? Do they know whom to report safety issues to? Do they know what to do if the safety issues are not corrected? Do they know what their level of authority is on the site (for example, do they know when or if it would be appropriate to leave a jobsite as a result of unresolved safety issues?).
- Communicate with the other employers: Your employees are only part of the equation on a multi-employer site. You need to have a workable relationship with the other employers, too. If they don't share your safety philosophy, are uncooperative, and/or are endangering your employees, you need to seriously consider whether you want to work on the site at all.
Whether you're a California employer looking to expand into another part of the country or an employer from outside California planning to expand into the state, California's occupational safety and health program and rules are likely to be an issue for you.
California is one of 26 states that run their own OSHA programs. In many of these so-called "state-plan states," the rules mirror the federal rules almost exactly; the state is merely responsible for enforcing them. California, though, is one of a handful that has created a program that differs in many important ways from federal OSHA's program, both in its administrative and regulatory structure and its regulatory coverage. Ignorance of these differences can put you at risk for costly citations.
Cal/OSHA vs. Fed/OSHA: A Comprehensive Guide To the Crucial Differences identifies and discusses--in easy-to-read plain English--the differences between Cal/OSHA's and federal OSHA's regulations as well as differences in the two agencies' approaches to:
- Standard structure and applicability
- The general duty clause
- Injury and Illness Prevention Programs
- Recordkeeping and reporting requirements
- Hazardous chemicals
- Infectious diseases
- Permit-required confined spaces
- Heat-related illness
- Code of safe practices
- Multi-employer worksites
- Young workers
- Enforcement practices
- Required postings
- And more!
Get your copy today!