According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, during 2013 alone, roughly one out of every five U.S. workplace fatalities occurred in the construction industry. From scaling scaffolding and working from heights to performing excavation work and working in confined spaces; the many and varied dangers faced by construction workers mean that safety must always be a top priority.
Compounding the challenges associated with ensuring construction sites are as safe and hazard-free as possible, is an increased reliance on contractors and subcontractors to complete specific projects at construction sites. For a construction employer, it's critical to take steps to ensure for not only the safety of a company's own workers, but also for any and all contractor and subcontractor workers who are hired for a project.
This is not only important from a safety standpoint, but also from a legal standpoint as federal regulations dictate that construction employers bear an "overall responsibility for compliance with the requirements...for all work to be performed under the contract." This means that a primary construction employer must assess the risks associated with the specific contracted work and ensure that all contractor workers are adequately educated and trained on any and all related safety requirements and protocols.
While construction employers are responsible for and bear liability with regard to contract workers' training and safety, contractor employers also share a joint responsibility and liability. In short, this means that a contractor employer must take steps to ensure that workers comply with all training and safety requirements as established by the primary construction employer.
Contract construction workers who are injured at a job site may take action to win worker's compensation benefits. Likewise, in certain cases, an injured contract or subcontract worker may also take steps to sue his or her employer or employers.
Source: EHS Today, "Contractor Safety: Are You Responsible When They Are on Site?," Kelly Meyers, Nov. 24, 2015