What happens when a Subcontractor hires a Subcontractor? Protect yourself today!

Many times a subcontractor will suddenly find they are quickly thrust into the role as “Hiring Contractor” when they subcontract a portion of their contract to a specialty subcontractor because of the nature of the skills required, they are overwhelmed by their initial contract, or maybe it is a situation where a portion of your original contract is being completed by a minority/DBE enterprise.  For whatever the reason, the key here is that you have to now think like a General Contractor and appropriately protect your company from safety liability. I give my clients a safety requirements contracts that their subcontractors must read, agree to, and formally sign before work can commence on the contract. The agreement is about 9 pages long, but in the spirit of brevity and limited editorial space I will just try to summarize the more important highlights.

Require a written safety & Health plan specific for the project they are about to perform and copies of documented worker training before they commence work.

The safety and health program must as a minimum include and address implementation of the following; to the degree they are applicable to the scope of work:

  • Description of planned work including task hazard breakdown where appropriate

  • Responsibilities and lines of authority for the planned work

  • Method for identifying job hazards and control methods.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required for the planned work (Note: if respiratory protection is required, a “Respiratory Protection Program” must be included).

  • Employee orientation and required job training.

  • Safety and health inspections.

  • Safety and health goals and expectations.

  • Disciplinary policy for violation of safety rules.

  • Fire prevention and protection including contingency planning.

  • Rules of Conduct and/or standard operating procedures as required for the work.

  • Security and site control measures.

  • Sanitation and on-site medical support services.

  • Owner specified safety requirements.

  • Accident Reporting, Root Cause Investigation, and Corrective Actions.

  • Recordkeeping

  • Hazard Communication training

Worker’s Compensation & Liability insurance

Request proof of Worker’s Compensation as required under applicable laws must be provided and administrated by SUBCONTRACTOR for their employees and agents.  CONTRACTOR will not assume any responsibility for the administration of Worker’s Compensation insurance, the submittal of reports, processing of claims, or any other related activity. Depending on the size of the project you may request to be named as additionally insured for the duration of their work.


SUBCONTRACTOR is responsible for providing first aid trained personnel and emergency medical care for its employees and agents, notwithstanding any first aid personnel that CONTRACTOR may have assigned to the project, site, or facility.

SUBCONTRACTOR, at its own risk, may use CONTRACTOR first aid facilities and personnel.  Such service is provided on a “Good Samaritan” basis and SUBCONTRACTOR will execute CONTRACTOR hold-harmless agreement  prior to obtaining first aid services from CONTRACTOR.

CONTRACTOR will not assume the responsibility for the transportation of SUBCONTRACTOR employees for medical or other purposes unless specifically included in terms of the subcontract and with the required indemnification agreement.


The following minimum dress requirements have been established as a guideline for SUBCONTRACTOR and its employees.  It is the responsibility of SUBCONTRACTOR to ensure their employees conform to these or other guidelines acceptable to CONTRACTOR.  You can decide ahead of time if any special dress code requirements are needed for the task at hand, or at the very least, industry standards for normal construction attire be adhered to.


SUBCONTRACTOR will provide, at its own expense, all required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for its employees and all required safety equipment and supplies as needed.  SUBCONTRACTOR is required to ensure employees are wearing appropriate PPE as specified in applicable OSHA regulatory standards


SUBCONTRACTOR is responsible for conducting daily and documented weekly jobsite inspections for unsafe conditions and work practices. These should be turned in to you at weekly intervals.


This is a big one that OSHA will usually ask for if they come calling.

SUBCONTRACTOR will provide safety training for its employees at its own expense, and such training will be documented and copies provided to CONTRACTOR upon request.


SUBCONTRACTOR is responsible for promptly correcting all violations of safety and health standards, potential hazards, and other such safety-related problems within their area of responsibility.  In the event an apparent violation is observed by CONTRACTOR, SUBCONTRACTOR will be notified.


MSDS sheets must be submitted. SUBCONTRACTOR will provide to CONTRACTOR copies of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for all materials that SUBCONTRACTOR brings on the jobsite.


Make sure you have written signatory documentation that your subcontractor has read, understood, and agrees to abide by your safety & health regulations.

Like I said, I have tremendously abbreviated the safety regulation agreement to cover the more important points.  I hope, at the very least, that this article will get you thinking the next time you hire a subcontractor.

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me at any time.

Stay Safe!

Mike Sicking

Safety International, LLC