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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Landmark OSHA Ruling

In a decision issued on April 27, 2007, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), in a two-to-one majority, overturned a significant component of OSHA’s multi-employer work site policy. In the Secretary of Labor v. Summitt Contractors, Inc., the OSHRC held that controlling employers are not responsible for the OSHA compliance by their subcontractors. The OSHRC affirmed that controlling employers are responsible for compliance with OSHA standards concerning those hazards that they create or hazards to which their employees are exposed.

OSHA’s multi-employer work site policy defines four types of employers for OSHA compliance purposes – the controlling employer, the creating the employer, the exposing employer, and the correcting employer. Typically, general contractors and construction management companies have been considered by OSHA to be controlling employers for safety and health enforcement purposes. However, it is very possible that subcontractors, when they control the actions of other subcontractors on a job site, can also be considered to be controlling employers. Therefore, the recent decision in Summitt may affect the entire construction industry and beyond...

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