You’ve seen the silly trope dozens of times in bad movies: “Who’s in charge here? Not anymore, you’re not.” In truth, some people just don’t play nice, and a myriad of other circumstances can generate friction between otherwise amiable parties. In construction, there needs to be a clear approach to managing multi-employer projects when needed.
ANSI/ASSE A10.33-2020: Safety and Health Program Requirements for Multi-Employer Projects covers guidance for a program to be used when multiple employers are engaged in a shared construction project.
The Need for a Standard for Multi-Employer Projects
The construction industry is massive. Serving as a significant portion of the U.S. economy, construction employs over 7 million people, who generate $1.3 trillion worth of structures each year. Construction projects carried out by multiple employers serve many purposes in the industry, but they unfortunately can influence an assortment of issues resulting from a lack of coordination among the employers and uncertainty surrounding the terms and conditions of employment among the various groups of workers engaged in the project.
Furthermore, multiple employers can actually be cited for OSHA violations at work sites under certain conditions, so it is crucial that these construction and demolition operations are carried out with care.
As addressed in ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020, worker safety on construction and demolition projects is achieved when the entire project hierarchy—from the owner through to the craft workers—engage in the safety initiative of the project.
ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020 for Multi-Employer Construction and Demolition Projects
ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020 is useful for multi-employer operations, as it provides the minimum safety and health guidelines for a program to provide a safe and healthy work environment while accomplishing cost-effective construction and avoiding undesirable occurrences and even injuries.
The ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020 standard addresses the problem of uncertainty present within multi-employer construction operations by defining the duties and responsibilities of employees and other responsible parties. This includes those for owner/client/manager responsibilities, contractor qualifications, and competent persons, as well as the placement of these individuals in the project safety and health plan.
Please note that ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020 revises ANSI/ASSE A10.33-2011, which was titled “Safety And Health Program Requirements For Multi-Employer Program – American National Standard For Construction And Demolition Operations.” The name change in this standard designation is due to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) changing its name to the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) back in 2018.
Final Authority at a Multi-Employer Site
In addition, the document defines a senior project supervisor, who has final authority and responsibility for the project safety and health plan, as well as senior contractor supervisors, who are designated by each contractor. The supervisors hold many responsibilities, and they are to be notified for corrective action.
Further information on the multi-employer program can be found in the standard document.
ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020: Safety and Health Program Requirements for Multi-Employer Projects is available on the ANSI Webstore.
It should be noted that construction documents are often in conflict with best practices in safety and health. Best practices often include shared responsibility and audit, oversight, communications, and cooperation, and an understanding of the circumstances that are unique to many jobs, designs, and site conditions. On the other hand, contracts are written by attorneys trying to avoid risk, whether costs, delays, claims, indemnity expenses, bad outcomes, damaged reputations, accidents and injuries that can create liabilities to their client contractor company and the client/owner. As a consequence many states allow contracts to be a all encompassing line between a senior contractor and it’s subcontractors, and subs of subs at all levels. Reading a contract implies that the senior contractor is responsible for nothing, and the trade contractors are fully responsible for everything. ( Some states like Colorado have sensibly adopted a shared risk law, making transfer of your own risk illegal, especially where the one taking the transfer isn’t capable of solving problems or avoiding issues that would mitigate such risk.
As a kid my dad taught me, ” never, ever, take responsibility to do or take care of anything, UNLESS you are also given full authority to make the decision and do what’s necessary to succeed. ” Too often contracts assign blame and responsibility to subordinates to the senior contractors and the owner, where such subcontractor(s) have no way to full accomplish anything without input and assistance from this entities doing their respective parts.
The A10.33 standard recognizes that less costs and claims, delays, expenses, risk, injuries and accidents occur when a smoothly run safety management program is in place. Indeed it’s a project management model. It’s parts can be applied to assure a better effort to get all the players on the same page, and properly accountable for their respective performance for safety, accident prevention, as well as quality and timely work. Also, it supplies a mechanism to iron out conflicts between trades and various levels of contractors. Many lawyers will do themselves and their clients a favor to know and incorporate such management mechanisms into their contracts, giving it more power and the mandate to be the BEST on the jobs.
I am a safety professional consultant, member of A10 parent committee, and a small contractor.