Nov 2, 2022

Who is Responsible For Contractor Safety?

Who benefits most from workplace safety regulations? Everyone. Similarly, everyone is also responsible for the upkeep of regulations too. Contractor safety management is a major concern for any safety conscious company, and for good reason. Every year, there are thousands of workplace accidents that put a heavy strain on businesses and their people. With so many roles and responsibilities involved in running a business, this raises the question, who is responsible for contractor safety? Is it the contractor themselves? The company they are working for? Or the government? In this blog post, we will explore the different stakeholders involved in ensuring good management of contractor safety and their respective roles. We will also discuss some of the challenges that need to be addressed in order to improve safety for your company as a whole.

Who's Responsible For Your Safety Program?

There are a variety of ways in which you can approach your safety program, and it is important to determine who is responsible for tracking each aspect of that system. An accounting of safety and health responsibilities should be a top priority for your organization. The proper assignment of roles and responsibilities is crucial to the success of your business.

The first step in tracking your safety program is to identify the goals associated with following a certain program, and what is expected of you to upkeep safety in the workplace. Once you have done this, you can then move on to determining who will be responsible for tracking the progress of the safety program. This person will need to ensure that all required training is completed by contractors, as well as keep track of any changes or updates to the safety program.

Once you have determined who will be responsible for tracking your safety program, it is important to communicate this information to all employees. This way, everyone knows who to go to with questions or concerns about the safety program. Additionally, this person should be easily accessible so that workers can get in touch with them when necessary.


When contractors are on site, the question most often asked is who is responsible for supervising their work to ensure that they conduct themselves in a safe manner? Is there a plant supervisor on site, are they watched by a site manager, or are they left to their own accord? The answer to this question ultimately states that everyone holds a certain degree of responsibility. Contractors and their workers are fully expected to know how to conduct themselves under the standards defined by their host organization as well as any regulations set out by government ruling bodies.

 However, the onus is on the hiring organization to ensure that their standards are being fulfilled while on site. When an organization invites third parties to their site, they assume risk and responsibility, and are accountable for any hazards they may face. Companies are expected to also provide workers with the proper onboarding procedures prior to starting work. However, as previously stated, the company’s obligations do not in turn relieve contractors from their duties as responsible workers. In fact, OSHA states, “To the extent that a subcontractor of any tier agrees to perform any part of the contract, he also assumes responsibility for complying with the standards in this part with respect to that part”.

Injury Reporting

The act of reporting on workplace injuries and illnesses depends on who is responsible for day-to-day supervision of your worksite. To answer this question, OSHA has outlined three scenarios in which you can appoint someone to record such cases.

Under section 1904.31(a), Employers are responsible for overseeing and recording all injury/illness cases if they are the day-to-day supervisors of the work conducted. Similarly, section 1904.21(b)(3) requires that contractors are held responsible for reporting injuries and illnesses if the contractor’s employees are under their day-to-day supervision. Lastly, if another employer oversees a contractor’s work, they are responsible for record keeping illnesses and injuries.

Simply put, the responsibility of reporting workplace injuries and illnesses often falls on whoever is appointed as the day-to-day supervisor of a worksite and the workers present.

Providing Training and PPE

Employers are responsible for and are expected to provide their employees with the necessary training and personal protective equipment needed to perform their duties. In a scenario where a contracted company is hired to work for an organization, the organization and prime contractor are tasked with ensuring that everyone present on the job is adequately trained to carry out the tasks that they are expected to perform.

Oftentimes, confusion arises around the topic of personal protective equipment. OSHA has a clearly defined answer through their final rule enacted in 2008. Their ruling states that employers are solely responsible for providing and paying for the necessary PPE for their workers. Some exceptions to this rule may apply, such as, if certain equipment that is requested has not been mandatory before, or if certain equipment isn’t listed as a general statutory requirement

Why Safety Should Remain Internal

There are a few key reasons why the responsibility of safety should remain internal within a company. First, it is more efficient for safety to be managed by a dedicated team or individual within the company. This way, there is someone whose sole focus is on keeping your company, employees, and onsite contractors safe, and they can more quickly identify and correct any potential hazards. An efficient organization is concerned with improving productivity and safety by designing workplaces that focus on building internal safety structures that aren't reliant on someone else.

Additionally, having an internal team or individual responsible for safety provides greater accountability. If something does go wrong, it is easier to pinpoint who is at fault and take corrective action. Finally, by keeping safety responsibility internal, companies can better ensure that their safety standards are met. External parties may not have the same commitment to safety as the company itself, so it is important to have someone in-house who can focus on safety in the workplace.


There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of who is responsible for contractor safety. Whether you're an environmental health and safety specialist or a third-party worker, the responsibility of contractor safety is often a shared effort that requires more than one party to participate in a sound safety program. In some cases, it may be the responsibility of the contractor themselves, while in others it may fall to the company they are working for. Ultimately, it is important to ensure that all parties involved in a project are aware of their responsibilities and are taking steps to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

About the Author

Addison Moore
Director of Marketing at Contractor Compliance

Addison has spent the last four years learning from and participating in the Health & Safety community. He has travelled to numerous EHS conferences, trade shows and events with the intention of helping organizations with their contractor management programs. Addison is also responsible for curating the collection of white papers, case studies and eBooks that provide real world insights into the workforce safety space.

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