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How the A10 Standards Can Help Improve Construction and Demolition Safety

Construction and demolition sites can expose workers to a wide range of hazards that can lead to serious injuries and fatalities.  The ANSI/ASSP A10 series of voluntary consensus standards provides safety requirements to help address these hazards. Tim Fisher, director of standards development and technical services for the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), joins us to answer some frequently asked questions about the A10 standards.

Can you give us some background on the A10 committee?

A10 is one of the oldest committees under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) dating back to the 1920s. The first A10 standard was written in 1943. With more than 1,000 members and 50 subgroups, A10 is also one of the largest standards-writing committees in the United States.

It’s comprised of four main interest categories:

First are the large construction companies, large contractors and contractors’ associations.

Second are labor unions including almost every major union whose members perform construction and demolition operations.

Third, is general interest groups that include a variety of government agencies and some universities.

Fourth is large engineering companies and consulting organizations.

A10 standards represent the biggest compendium of consensus standards anywhere in the world addressing occupational safety and health for construction and demolition operations. These standards are currently used in more than 70 countries to help prevent worker injuries and fatalities.

What role does ASSP play in the facilitation of these standards and how they are developed?

ASSP is the secretariat for the A10 standards committee. We manage the committee to ensure it follows the accredited procedures to write standards that are based on good science and sound technology. We make sure the standards development process is conducted in a transparent way that is fair and unbiased so that the standards are credible and valuable to the construction and demolition industry.

How are standards topics chosen by the A10 committee?

The A10 committee canvasses our entire membership at our bi-annual meetings to bring topics, issues and concerns facing our industry to the forefront. The committee then votes on a topic and if it passes, we request an individual to sponsor the topic, choose a group to work with and create a white paper. ASSP as an organization then approves the project and launches the initiative with public notice and call for comments. If the proposed standard is approved, we then proceed with creating the standard.

Why should safety professionals use A10 standards?

Safety programs that incorporate written policies and procedures are key to developing and maintaining an effective and efficient safety culture. The A10 series of standards covers safety requirements for a whole host of construction and demolition activities. Following the ANSI standard development process, these standards are revised or reaffirmed every five years. This process and procedure keeps the A10 standards current and having positive impact on the construction and demolition industry. Using the technical information and guidance found in A10 standards, safety and health professionals can develop their own comprehensive program that includes policies and procedures that represent industry best practices and go beyond regulatory compliance.

A10 standards encompass so many different construction and demolition tasks. Can you give us a brief overview of the different types of work and tasks covered by these standards?

A10 is at the forefront of addressing hazards in a variety of subsets of the construction industry. Some of these hazards include scaffolding collapses, hearing loss, falls from height and trench cave-ins. The A10 series of standards provide much more up-to-date and technically specific safety and health operating practices than other regulatory standards that may not address due to technical and technological changes over time. There are standards also created to address safety in niche areas like masonry, wind turbine facilities, telecommunications towers and highway construction safety.

ANSI/ASSP A10.47-2021, Work Zone Safety for Roadway Construction, is specific to the hazards of road construction. This standard has been around for a while, but recently was revised to ensure best practices are incorporated. This includes guidance on developing traffic control plans, implementing protective safety measures, improving worker visibility and creating an emergency response plan.

What A10 Standards apply to construction and demolition safety management?

We receive this question often. This is likely because requests for proposals (RFPs) may require that the successful bidder have a safety management system for large-scale construction projects. These A10 standards provide OSH management guidance.

ANSI/ASSP A10.1-2018 Pre-Project and Pre-Task Safety and Health Planning for Construction and Demolition Operations, will help you set priorities and create a plan for a project.

ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020, Safety and Health Program Requirements for Multi-Employer Projects, addresses the complexities of the contracting environment and sets administrative structure for the project to provide a safe and healthful work environment where multiple employers are or will be engaged.

ANSI/ASSP A10.38-2021, Basic Elements of an Employer’s Program to Provide a Safe and Healthful Work Environment, aims to help employers provide a safe work environment.

ANSI/ASSP A10.39-1996 (R2017), Construction Safety and Health Audit Program, establishes an internal method of measuring compliance with an organization’s written safety and health program requirements. Using this standard will help you gauge the effectiveness of your program.

Which A10 standards would you recommend to a new safety professional or someone new to the construction and demolition industry?

These foundational standards are good for every safety professional to have in their toolbox. These standards will help you develop a site-specific safety plan that can then be published and communicated to all workers, sharing best practices with everyone involved with the project.

ANSI/ASSP A10.6-2006 (R2016) Safety and Health Program Requirements for Demolition Operations, specifically addresses how to prevent damage to property and how to protect the public during demolition operations.

ANSI/ASSP A10.7-2018, Safety and Health Requirements for Construction and Demolition Use, Storage, Handling and Site Movement of Commercial Explosives and Blasting Agents, is another good standard for everyone to have. You might not use it often, but it’s important to know these best safety practices when you have the need.

ANSI/ASSP A10.25-2017, Sanitation in Construction, describes how to create a healthy work environment.

ANSI/ASSP A10.26-2011 (R2016), Emergency Procedures for Construction and Demolition Sites, explains emergency information in a user-friendly way, making it easy to communicate the procedure to workers.

ANSI/ASSP A10.34-2021, Protection of the Public on or Adjacent to Construction Sites, is a recently updated standard that addresses situations like high-rise construction sites where you need to have a plan that protects the public from the hazards of your job site.

ANSI/ASSP A10.49-2015 Control of Chemical Health Hazards in Construction and Demolition Operations, focuses on hazards you can’t see. It contains state-of-the-art guidance that will help you protect workers.

How does someone join the A10 committee and get involved in the standards development process?

Visit assp.org/standards to apply online. It’s important to note that committee members represent their organization and not an individual viewpoint. We will start by getting you involved with a subgroup to work on the technical content of a document. From there you can move to a main committee. It takes some time and effort, but it is not a particularly difficult process. Contact us and we will get you started.

Any closing comments?

Yes, use the A10 standards. They incorporate the most current accepted safety and health practices. Implementing these standards will help move your occupational safety and health programs forward to keep construction and demolition workers safe.

Tim Fisher, CSP, CHMM, CPEA, ARM, FASSP, is director of standards and technical services with the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP). Fisher holds an M.S. in Industrial Management-Safety and Industrial Hygiene from Northern Illinois University, an M.A. in Public Administration from University of Illinois-Chicago and a B.A. in Management from the University of Maryland.

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