Is the Host Employer or Contract Employer Responsible for Worker Safety?

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In June of 2015, a 47-year-old Siemens employee died while performing routine electrical maintenance work.

While the cause of his death was not released, he had come in contact with a wire while performing testing work at an AK Steel substation in Ashland, KY.

A spokesperson said that power had already been shut down, “locked out and tagged out like it was supposed to be.” He also said “there was apparently a lot of voltage but not a lot of amps in the wire.”

Who is responsible for the worker’s safety – the company on whose property the employee was working or the subcontractor who provided the workers for the job?

NFPA 70E is clear on this issue: BOTH the host employer and the contract employer are responsible for the worker’s safety. In NFPA 70E 110.3(A), the text states that the host employer must make known to contract employers the known hazards related to the contractor’s work and any information the contractor will need to make any safety related assessments. The host employer must also report to the contract employer any violations they observe an employee doing while on the job.

The contract employer is responsible for providing basic training on electrical safety to each employee as well as passing on the information about the known work-related hazards that the host employer communicated. The contract employer must also make sure each employee follows the safety related work practices they were trained on.   Among other things, the contract employer must report to the host employer any hazards that were not communicated by the host. [70E 110.3(B)] E-hazard recommends a Qualified Electrical Worker program that includes Hands-on Demonstration of Skills to ensure workers understand and can apply the correct safety concepts and applications.

OSHA recently cited two Texas companies in the fall accident of a worker. The combined fines exceed $367,000. The citations against the host employer include failure to provide fall protection and failure to report the incident within 24 hours of the accident. The contract employer was cited for failure to inspect the job site, materials, and equipment regularly.

While both the host and contract employers have a big part to play in keeping employees safe on the job, ultimately the responsibility for each worker’s safety falls on the individual worker. Each worker still has to make the choice to follow safety procedures and wear the PPE appropriate for each job. Implementing the right training and using the PPE correctly, the worker can definitely better his or her chances of going home at the end of the day injury-free.

OSHA News Release for Fall Injury

Hugh Hoagland

does research and testing of PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Hugh is a Sr. Consultant at ArcWear and Sr. Partner at e-Hazard. Read more about Hugh.

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