This question is one of the most common that I get when I am out on site training. Most manufacturing and distribution companies, at one time or another, will host a contractor to perform work at the host employer’s site. The work may be in terms of facility repair of some kind for short periods of time lasting only days or even hours. The contract work could be daily, on-going work that involves outsourcing of an entire technical task that the contractor is much more suited and efficient to perform.
In any of these cases, the host employer should know and understand the correct structure safety responsibility structure and protocol to establish at their facility that would involve these vendors and contractors. This is of paramount importance because in many cases, the one party assumes the other party is responsible and, in effect, neither party is in compliance. The host employer, with the most to lose in a majority of these cases, is often mistaken in believing that contractor M has unilateral responsibility of anything and everything that happens to contractor M’s employees and that the host employer has no responsibility at all. I hear so often that vendor agreements and contractor agreements make it clear and undisputed in terms of which party has to be responsible for whom when it comes to safety and workers.
See this page from OSHA on this issue to help you clarify for yourself how these relationships are to work in terms of safety and compliance on a multi-employer site (this applies to all industries). This should help with the clarification of who and what is the responsible party in these settings and between employers working on the same site.
Feel free to contact us to discuss if you have any questions or comments.