General contractors beware: your responsibilities seem to have increased.
On November 26, 2018, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (in New Orleans) ruled that general contractors can be held responsible for subcontractors that create OSHA violations.
Curious about the exact scenario that required this change? According to Pro Tool Reviews:
Hensel Phelps was contracted to build a new library for the City of Austin.
They subcontracted Haynes Eaglin Watters, LLC for work on the project’s Seaholm Substation East Screen Wall.
Haynes Eaglin Watters then subcontracted demo work to CVI Development, LLC.
During the process, Haynes created a soil wall without adequate sloping or other protective measures that CVI employees were required to work around, exposing them to the risk of cave in.
So while the subcontractor created the violation, Hensel and Haynes employees were also never exposed to the risk - only CVI employees were.
Under the 1981 ruling from Melerine v. Avondale Shipyards, Inc., employees only had to worry about their own employees. That is no longer true under the new ruling.
So if you plan on subcontracting in the future, keep a close eye on if the subcontractor creates any hazards!