When Other Employees May Also Be Your Employees

No matter which environment you work in, multi-employer citations and/or liabilities in Texas may now be levied against you.  So you may be asking yourself, “What does multi-employer mean to me?” According to OSHA (Labor, 1999), multi-employer means any employer that is “exposing, creating, correcting, and controlling” employees of work places hazards in all industries.

Which kind of employer are you?
Whether you send your employees to remote work locations, engage in sub-contractor use at work sites, use shared equipment for work or are responsible for directing work flow – you may have more employees than you originally thought. If any of these situations apply to you, you may be legally responsible as one of the four types of employers.

Why should this be a top priority for you, as a Texas employer?
Recently, a large General Contractor working in Austin was cited as a multi-employer, which was challenged in court. For the previous 37 years, the Fifth Circuit Court’s stance on the employer/employee relationship was, “OSHA regulations protect only an employer’s own employees,” (Melerine v. Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 1981). However, thanks to the new ruling in November, 2018, “We conclude that the Secretary of Labor has the authority under section 5(a)(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. § 654(a)(2), to issue citations to controlling employers at multi-employer worksites for violations of the Act’s standards,” (Acosta v. Hensel Phelps Construction Company, 2018). This reversal of nearly forty decades of doctrine just broadened OSHA scope of when and who can be held liable for multi-employer citations and injuries.

So how do you ensure you are protected from multi-employer liabilities?
Depending on which employer you are and the specific circumstances of how you operate will dictate how you protect yourself. This could mean implementing or updating well defined sub-contractor agreements that clearly state where liability falls, a more robust training program for workers at remote sites, knowing how to effectively communicate to other employers, or understand the areas of workflow which should require separation of the relationships.

Please join us Friday, May 10, at Catto & Catto’s Safety Academy,  “Are You Protected When Other Employees Become Your Employees?” to learn more about your risk as a multi-employer and how to protect yourself.  Visit to reserve your seat. 

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