Here’s an important note for companies that use subcontractors to carry out work. The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health can cite your company for on-the-job injuries if it appears you were a controlling employer—and it doesn’t have to prove you were in a position to abate the condition that caused injury.
Protect yourself by being prepared to show you used due diligence to prevent injuries.
Recent case: Jeff Gilkinson injured his leg when he tried to fix a leak in a pressurized chill water line his employer had installed as part of a subcontract for construction at Madera Community College.
The general contractor, Harris Construction, was charged with safety and health violations under California’s OSHA statute. Harris insisted that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health should have to prove that Harris was in a position to prevent the injury before it could cite the company.
The Court of Appeal of California disagreed and said Harris could be cited without proof it could have abated the harm. Instead, it was up to Harris to counter the claim by showing it used due diligence to prevent the injury. (Local 246, AFL-CIO, et al., v. Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board, et al., No. C065265, Court of Appeal of California, 3rd Appellate Division, 2011)
Final note: Now is a good time to review safety and injury prevention programs. Show you worked hard to prevent harm.