ASSE to Host Webinar on New Construction Safety Standard

The American Society of Safety Engineers, under fire recently from several building and contracting groups for its role in spearheading the ANSI/ASSE A10.40-2007 Reduction of Musculoskeletal Problems in Construction standard, will host a webinar on the standard Aug. 13, from noon to 1:30 p.m. CST.

During the session, ANSI/ASSE A10 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) on Construction and Demolition Operations members Frank Burg of Accident Prevention Corp., Scott Schneider of the Laborers International Union of North America, and Richard King of Black & Veatch will introduce the standard and discuss how employers and employees can implement it into their construction and demolition operations.

ASSE notes that the construction industry is one of the most hazardous industries in the United States, with 2,640 non-fatal occupational repetitive motion injuries and 26,680 non-fatal overexertion injuries in 2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The society adds that MSDs--including back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, rotator cuff syndrome, sprains, and strains--can be caused by work conditions and activities such as lifting, repetitive movements, and toiling in confined areas, and that some of the potential solutions in the A10.40 standard aimed at reducing MSDs include risk elimination, substitution, use of engineering controls, administrative changes, training, use of protective equipment, and assessment of individuals' physical capabilities.

On July 22, National Association of Home Builders President Sandy Dunn said the A10.40 standard was ineffective and unworkable by the residential and commercial construction industry, and accused ASSE of subverting the ANSI process. "In effect, ASSE has created its own version of consensus and has adopted an unworkable program, despite strong objection from the construction industry," Dunn said. "It is not surprising that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration actually resigned from the consensus committee so as not to be associated with the final product."

Dunn noted that Construction Employers Coalition--a group that includes the Associated General Contractors of America, Associated Builders & Contractors Inc., the American Subcontractors Association, and the Mechanical Contractors Association of America--also opposes the standard as it is currently written. In describing its objections to the impractical recommendations to the standard, NAHB pointed to a section that suggests cutting drywall into three-foot pieces, which would not fit on the framing used by nearly all architects, designers, and builders. NAHB also said that the standard would not help reduce workplace injuries, because it is does not provide information on how to be safe. Rather than providing workplace safety instructions, it offers vague suggestions for employers to examine activities that involve such things as "force," "pushing," or "lifting." According to NAHB, the A10.40 Committee itself admits that the standard is not intended to address the causes of injuries.

During the webinar, A10.40 Committee members Burg and Schneider will lead the presentation, and King will give the introduction and assist with questions and answers. Burg served as A10.40 subgroup chair, is an active member of the A10 Committee, and has significant experience with construction and demolition operations. To register for the event, contact ASSE Customer Service at (847) 699-2929 or e-mail customerservice@asse.org. Registration includes an electronic copy of the A10.40 standard and a link to the recorded version of the session. For more information on the A10.40 standard, visit www.asse.org/publications/standards/a10/a10.40.php and www.asse.org/newsroom/release.php?pressRelease=1085.

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