Ask the Expert: Who’s Responsible at Multiple Employer Worksites?

  editor |   Laws & Regulations

Multiple Worksite Contracted Security


When a company is contracted to provide a service at a multiple employer worksite, is more than one employer responsible for ensuring that the company is compliant with all relevant OHS Regulations and ultimately, the safety of the contracted workers?




Contracting is common, yet this is a question that receives little attention and employers run the risk of finding themselves on the wrong side of OSHA safety inspectors as a result. Health and safety compliancy is a shared responsibility. Contractors are utilized by numerous industries and are deployed to a myriad of worksites. There is one health and safety constant; the employer is responsible for the safety of all workers on a worksite. The term “employer” refers not only the owner of the security company, but in the case of a “multi-employer worksite”, may also include the owner of the property and the contractor responsible for overseeing the worksite.

The employer is often thought to be the one who pays the security worker.  In a health and safety context this may not be so. The following OHSA directive explains where responsibilities lie in multi-employer worksites.

Multi-employer worksites (in all industry sectors), may cite more than one employer for a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard.  Industry sectors that contract for security services include, but are not limited to: construction sites, retail malls, schools, special events and government operations, to name a few.

According to OSHA’s Multiple-Employer Citation Policy, there is a two-step process that must be followed in determining whether more than one employer is to be cited:

  • The first step is for OSHA to determine whether the employer is a creating, exposing, correcting, or controlling employer (see definitions below). Remember that an employer may have multiple roles. Once the role of the employer has been identified, then step two is used to determine if a citation is appropriate.  NOTE: only exposing employers can be cited for General Duty Clause violations.
  • If the employer falls into one of these categories, it has obligations with respect to OSHA requirements. Step two is to determine if the employer’s actions were sufficient to meet those obligations. The extent of the actions required of employers varies based on which category applies.  NOTE: the extent of the measures that a controlling employer must take to satisfy its duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent and detect violations is less than what is required of an employer with respect to protecting its own employees.
Employer Definitions:

  • CreatingThe employer that caused a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard.
  • Exposing – An employer whose own employees are exposed to the hazard.
  • Correcting – An employer who is engaged in a common undertaking, on the same worksite, as the exposing employer and is responsible for correcting a hazard. This usually occurs where an employer is given the responsibility of installing and/or maintaining particular safety/health equipment or devices.
  • Controlling – An employer who has general supervisory authority over the worksite, including the power to correct safety and health violations itself or require others to correct them. Control can be established by contract or, in the absence of explicit contractual provisions, by the exercise of control in practice.

OSHA directive number: CPL02 2-0.124 Multi-employer Citation Policy

About The Expert

Jim Foston is the CEO and Founder of The Foston Group SafeWork Consulting Inc. “Protecting the Protectors”

Jim’s focus is on health and safety in the private security industry. He also provides health and safety training and consultation to private, and government sector, clients and educational institutions. Jim has personally trained or overseen the training of approximately 6500 security workers in BC, over the past 18 years. In 2010, he delivered training to 900 security workers and venue managers for the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Games.

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