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July 29, 2008: New Ergonomic Standard Is Unworkable, Says Construction Coalition

July 29, 2008
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WASHINGTON - The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) expressed its strong disappointment with a recently published standard on workforce safety that the association says has been deemed ineffective and unworkable by the residential and commercial construction industry.

The development of the A10.40 standard on ergonomics, which was spearheaded by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), was overseen and approved through a “deeply divided consensus process that did not reflect the concerns of the affected industries,” said the NAHB. It was published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) despite strenuous objections from a coalition of industry representatives in July.

“It is troubling that ASSE can subvert the ANSI process in order to impose its own vision on the construction industry,” said NAHB President Sandy Dunn “The standard will be useless for the construction industry, so it is encouraging that there are several other effective resources available to ensure the health and safety of construction workers, which is our biggest priority.”

An appeal brought about by the Construction Employers Coalition, which opposes the standard as it is currently written, was denied. According to the NAHB, in refusing the appeal, ANSI decided that consensus for a standard does not require the agreement of the industry where the standard applies. In addition to NAHB, the coalition is comprised of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Associated Builders & Contractors Inc. (ABC), the American Subcontractors Association (ASA), and the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA). In addition to the Coalition members, 11 other firms and organizations also voted in opposition to the standard.

“In effect, ASSE has created its own version of consensus and has adopted an unworkable program, despite strong objection from the construction industry,” said Dunn. “It is not surprising that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) actually resigned from the consensus committee so as not to be associated with the final product.”

NAHB stated 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, said NAHB, it offers vague suggestions for employers to examine activities that involve such things as “force,” “pushing,” or “lifting.”

Publication date: 07/28/2008

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