Why Use A10 Standards?


Why ANSI/ASSE A10 Standards are important

Anyone who uses OSHA compliance as a goal has aimed low. OSHA standards are minimum standards that are frequently out of date. For example, OSHA’s 1926.550 crane standard was updated in 2010. Yet, it still references ANSI standards from the 1950s and 1960s. Do you think cranes have changed much in 50 years? Is your aim to meet 50-year-old ideas of safety particularly on critical issues, such as cranes? ANSI A10 standards give field safety personnel an opportunity to know the generally accepted best practices in construction safety so they can maximize their effectiveness.

Some safety practitioners still are not familiar with ANSI standards and, therefore, do not recognize their value. Other safety practitioners simply do not have the resources to purchase standards. We do not want companies learning the value of ANSI standards by losing lawsuits because they did not provide a reasonable level of safety.

The great value these standards provide is their direct application to field operations. Many safety practitioners have limited experience in the entire breadth of construction and demolition operations. Highway contractors probably are not familiar with roofs. Tunnel contractors might not know about digger derricks and hardly anyone has experience with dredging. Yet, anyone with a strong construction background can buy a standard and quickly get up to speed on the hazards of a new operation. Scaffolds are a great example. A wide range of scaffolds exists, and the ANSI standard covers each type.

Let’s put ANSI standards into perspective using a ladder as a metaphor. Cutting-edge ideas are the top rung, while minimum legal standards, such as OSHA regulations, are the bottom rung. ANSI falls in between. Consensus standards represent a balance between business, labor, technical experts, manufacturers and other interested parties. ANSI standards tend to incorporate the best proven ideas relatively rapidly, without the politics of OSHA rulemaking.

Ken Shorter, CSP, ARM, TCDS, is a consultant for McDonough Bolyard Peck, an award-winning consulting firm specializing in construction management. His career has focused on heavy construction projects, including rapid transit systems, tunnels, airports, dams, bridges, highways, marine projects and offshore oil platforms. Recently, Ken managed construction safety for a $1.4 billion project at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and renovation work for the National Institutes of Health. Shorter holds an M.S. in Safety from the University of Southern California. He is a professional member of ASSE’s Chesapeake Chapter, and belongs to the Society’s Consultants, Construction, Management and Risk Management/Insurance practice specialties.


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