230 S. LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604-1496
Telephone (312) 341-1300
Fax (312) 347-1800
Mr. Felipe G. Devora
Fretz Construction Company
6301 Long Drive
Houston, Texas 77086-3405
RE: ACCH's Draft Multi-Employer
Dear Mr. Devora:
After review of the above referenced document and participation in the conference call last week, we wanted to document a few of our comments and concerns.
This draft is definitely an improvement over any document to date to clarify fairly the responsibility and contractual limitations of the "Controlling Contractor" concept for improving safety in construction. It is not based on "Case Law" (which should be left to the legal system to sort out), but instead tries to present a balanced approach to the role that the exposing employer, the creating employer, the correcting employer and the controlling employer are responsible for.
While this document attempts to recognize the impact of the contract terms (particularly for the consulting contractor, program manager or construction manager) it does not say (but should day) than an Owner (public or private) may in fact be the "controlling manager" contractually. This is the biggest issue - too many times, contracts delegate "responsibility" without giving "control" and "authority" to the "responsible" party. Without control and authority, one cannot be the "controlling contractor".
We would like to see more examples of affirmative defenses for the controlling contractor avoiding citations (similar to California and Washington). Too often, regulators make the "controlling contractor" their focal point (size, deep pockets) rather than focusing on who (employer and employee) did not fix, block off, or bring the hazard to the attention of the "correcting" and "controlling" contractors. In the ever changing dynamics of the construction site, only a total team effort can ever maintain a "safe" site. Unfortunately, regulations tend to undermine teamwork by establishing a chain of "guilty" which dilutes the responsibility assumed by the individual. It is always someone else's responsibility too, so there is an attitude created "let them" be responsible.
Lastly, the concept of a "controlling contractor or manager" is becoming the cure-all panacea for employers limiting their responsibilities (i.e. Senrac). These responsibilities should be handled contractually - not through regulations, and responsibility and control/authority must be carefully balanced. Every employer must be responsible to their employees and the employees must be responsible for their acts and a team player in keeping the site a safe site. Surely the controlling contractor (whoever that may be) has a very important role including leadership and coordination between the other employers, and usually they are a positive catalyst in site safety. If this is true, they should not be an automatic target for punishment or eve the good ones will be forced to contractually limit their roles to the point that the most qualified mangers will not be the "controlling contractor".
Turner Construction Company
Robert G. Widing
Company Safety & Environmental Director
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