From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Standard Aims to Cut Musculoskeletal Problems in Construction Industry

The construction industry in the United States is a little closer to a voluntary standard that promises to help protect its workers from painful and often crippling musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) plans to submit the draft of the standard, “Reduction of Musculoskeletal Problems in Construction” (ANSI/ASSE A10.40-200x), to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for final review.

The recommended measures to reduce the risk of MSDs include 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 them 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 checklist of circumstances regarded as risk factors, 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.

Contention has accompanied the progress of the standard. Various sectors of the industry objected to aspects of it and filed an appeal after the proposed standard was submitted to the ANSI for approval in 2006. At a hearing on May 1, 2007, the appeals panel found no merit in the objections and the draft is on its way to the next stage towards adoption – the review.

It could still be derailed. New appeals can be filed at any time during the 30-day to 90-day review period.

The Vice President of the ASSE Council on Practices and Standards, James D. Smith, is a strong advocate of the standard. “These consensus guidelines could help reduce these workplace injuries,” he said in an ASSE news release. “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.”

Founded in 1911, the Illinois-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety organization

Source: ASSE