OSHA citing more general contractors for subcontractors’ safety violations
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the top cause of employee deaths in construction. OSHA is focused on protecting workers on multi-employer work sites with more citations for general contractors, according to Jonathan Crotty, a partner with the law firm Parker Poe.
“OSHA has been more aggressive about citing general contractors it believes have not taken adequate steps to monitor and police safety practices on their work sites, especially when it comes to fall protection,” wrote Crotty in the article “OSHA Continues to Cite General Contractors for Subcontractors’ Safety Violations” on Parker Poe’s website. “If the investigator sees the subcontractor’s employees working without adequate fall protection, there is a good chance that both the subcontractor and the general contractor will receive citations.”
Crotty added that in recent years OSHA has frequently cited general contractors that do not have a well-documented safety inspection program in place. In addition, if the general contractor discovers compliance issues by subcontractors, it must demonstrate that it actually enforces its rules, typically through a progressive system of fines and the removal of the subcontractor.
“If the general contractor can demonstrate a rigorous safety and enforcement program, the fact that a subcontractor or its employees ignored these rules should not serve as an adequate legal basis for an OSHA citation against it,” said Crotty. “Construction contractors cannot continuously monitor subcontractors’ safety practices, and if cited, the general contractor can challenge the legal basis for a citation claiming it is responsible for the violation.”