Plant Owner Not Responsible for Contractor's Safety Violations

Author:Ms Margaret Hackbarth
Profession:Holland & Knight LLP
 
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Recently, a federal appellate court refused to hold a meat processing plant

owner responsible for its cleaning contractor's OSHA violations. IBP v. Herman

(D.C. Cir. 1998). In doing so, the court cast significant doubt upon the

Secretary of Labor's authority to cite property owners as "controlling

employers."

In evaluating the citation against the owner, the court explained that, even

if an owner could be cited for safety violations as a "controlling

employer," the owner did not exercise the requisite control over the

contractor in this case. It reached that conclusion because the owner had no

contractual right to discipline the contractor's employees, and, in the parties'

contract, the owner had effectively shifted the burden of labor supervision,

worksite control and safety compliance to the contractor. Although the court

recognized that the owner had the right to terminate the contractor for safety

violations, it explained that such a drastic remedy did not effectively provide

the...

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