Home > Past Campaigns >

Multi-Employer Worksites

Posted on Nov 18, 2009
Tweet This! Email This! Share This on Facebook Bookmark and Share

Construction Workers Multiple employers work on jobsites in industries such as construction, agriculture, and refineries, each potentially creating hazards for their own employees as well as the employees of other employers.

Under California law, the “controlling employer” on multi-employer jobsites such as a general contractor may be held liable for the health and safety violations of its subcontractors. The law defines a controlling employer as one who has responsibility for safety on a multi-employer worksite and the authority for ensuring that hazardous conditions are corrected.

Ignoring the plain language of the law, on April 2007, the OSH Appeals Board In the Matter of the Appeal of Harris Construction Co., Inc. ruled that a general contractor may be held liable only if it was in a position to know about and abate the specific hazard that injured a subcontractor’s employee. In other words, if the hazard is not apparent, then the general contractor will not be held responsible. But the law does not require prior knowledge of or the ability to abate the hazard.

If the court upholds this ruling, it will result in less safe workplaces by increasing the likelihood that general contractors will abandon the oversight of health and safety on multi-employer worksites.

On April 27, 2007, Worksafe filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus on behalf of a plumbers local union and two public interest organizations with the Sacramento Superior Court to overturn the Appeals Board’s decision. Oral argument on the petition is scheduled for March 19, 2010. To learn more about this case, click here to go to our Litigation section.

Support Worksafe, Donate Now