Standard on Musculoskeletal Problems in Construction Nears Completion

After years in the works, the voluntary consensus standard Reduction of Musculoskeletal Problems in Construction (ANSI/ASSE A10.40-200x) will be submitted to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for final review. This standard is aimed at reducing musculoskeletal problems/disorders (MSDs) in construction workers.

In 2006, the ANSI A10.40 Committee, a subcommittee of the ANSI A10 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) on Construction and Demolition Operations, balloted the proposed standard to the A10 ASC for approval. Following approval by the committee, six organizations then filed an appeal challenging the standard's adoption, and a hearing was held on May 1, 2007, for the airing of formal complaints. On May 25, 2007, the appeals panel found unanimously that the appeal complaints were without merit and that the Secretariat, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), complied with the ANSI due process requirements in developing the standard.

"These consensus guidelines could help reduce these workplace injuries," said ASSE Council on Practices and Standards (CoPS) Vice President James D. Smith. "Our members work with employers and employees daily to increase workplace safety by developing and implementing effective ergonomic solutions--solutions that can remove barriers to quality, productivity, and human performance by fitting products, tasks, and environments to people, which in turn can save millions of dollars."

The A10.40 standard will now be sent to the ANSI Board of Standards Review (BSR). The review can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days, and appeals can still be filed during this time. Some of the potential solutions in the standard aimed at reducing the incidence of MSDs include risk elimination, substitution, use of engineering controls, administrative changes, training, use of protective equipment, and assessment of individuals' physical capabilities. The standard also notes that construction workers and supervisors should be trained to recognize risk factors and ways to reduce the risk of MSDs through proper work techniques. Employee participation and an injury management program are also discussed in the standard.

In addition, the standard includes a risk assessment guide, a construction MSD problem reduction checklist, a return-to-work checklist, a list of resources, key terms and definitions, and a list of non-occupational risk factors associated with work-related MSDs such as age, strength, and gender. For more information, visit www.asse.org.

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