OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

May 23, 2001

Mr. Dino V. Gigante
45 Wanders Drive
Hingham, MA 02043

Re: CPL 2-0.124 ("Multi-Employer Citation Policy"); self-employed contractors

Dear Mr. Gigante:

This responds to your March 8, 2001, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We have paraphrased your questions below:

Question 1: Can OSHA cite a self-employed individual working on a construction site for violations of OSHA construction standards?

Answer: No. If a construction worker is truly self-employed — is not an employee — and has no employees working for him or her, OSHA has no authority to require that individual to abide by OSHA construction requirements.

Question 2: What can be done to address unsafe practices by a self-employed individual?

Answer: Although OSHA has no authority to issue citations to a self-employed construction worker (with no employees), where a general contractor has hired that individual to work at the site, the general contractor can, by contract, require that individual to abide by the practices set out in OSHA standards. In other words, OSHA's lack of compliance authority does not restrict the general contractor from instituting workplace safety requirements on the individual by contract. Note, though, that OSHA does not have the authority to compel the individual to abide by such contract requirements.

OSHA construction requirements must be met by employers where employees are exposed to a hazard created by a self-employed worker. The extent of an employer's obligations regarding hazards created by others is explained in [CPL 02-00-124 (formerly CPL 2-0.124)] ("Multi-Employer Citation Policy") (
copy attached).

If you need additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction

[Corrected 6/2/2005]