Dealing with contractors on site who don’t adhere to your safety procedures can be risky. Since you or your employer can be subject to fines or even jail time when not compliant with regulations, you need to know who is accountable for your contractors.
Countries have different rules and regulations when it comes to safety and training for contracted companies and lone workers.
Globally, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that “although there are no ILO instruments that specifically address contractors’ and subcontractors’ safety and health at work (or for training in the industry), those concerning occupational safety and health (OSH) in general emphasize the importance of OSH training for all workers. Safety training should focus on supporting preventive action and finding practical solutions.”
While there are no specific global requirements, we will explore contractor safety regulations for the construction industry in the United States.
OSHA offers safety and health regulations for construction. According to the regulations for construction, “in no case shall the prime contractor be relieved of overall responsibility for compliance with the requirements of this part for all work to be performed under the contract.”
Workers in the engineering and construction industries face many hazards, as construction sites are one of the most dangerous places to work in the world, especially for contracted lone workers.
OSHA also indicates that “to the extent that a subcontractor of any tier agrees to perform any part of the contract, he also assumes responsibility for complying with the standards in this part with respect to that part… [W]ith respect to subcontracted work, the prime contractor and any subcontractor or subcontractors shall be deemed to have joint responsibility.”
In 2013, OSHA noted that 20 percent of occupational fatalities were in construction. Every month, the agency reports fatalities of contract workers, and often, publicizes citations and fines for both host companies and the employers of contract employees if they are killed or injured or endangered on the job.
The Safety Landscape is Evolving: Are you Prepared?
In the United Kingdom and Australia, the governments have implemented legislation that requires the employers to be responsible for the safety and well being of their contractors. Canada and the United States still have some work to do so that contractor responsibility is clear for both employers and contractors.
Is your organization up-to-date on local and regional legislation? Is this information effectively communicated – specifically to your lone workers? And are your current safety investments compliant?