OSHA has long used the language in the OSH act to find and hold multiple employers accountable for the actions of another on construction job sites. For decades, OSHA would not only cite the employer whose employees were exposed to hazards, but would also cite the employer who was designated the “controlling employer” on-site, which is most often the general contractor.
According to JD Supra, a recent court ruling in Texas has taken away that authority from OSHA in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. In Acosta v. Hansel Phelps Construction Co., an administrative law judge ruled against OSHA, arguing that the multi-employer doctrine was invalid in the 5th Circuit, since a previous precedent had already been established in a different case. The 5th Circuit covers the three states mentioned above.
In the specific case mentioned above, OSHA cited both a subcontractor and the general contractor for exposing employees to an excavation cave-in hazard, but none of the general contractors employees were exposed to the hazard.
In order to preserve that authority and avoid federal judges being split on their rulings in the future, OSHA has filed for an appeal with the 5th Circuit. The administration argues that the case used as precedent did not involve OSHA, but instead an instance of negligence. JD Supra suggests that employers shouldn’t take OSHA lightly, as they expect them to “vigorously defend and enforce its multi-employer” doctrine.
Full story: OSHA Appeals Decision Invalidating Its Multi-Employer Citation Policy | JD Supra
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