Thursday, August 7, 2014

Protecting The Public During An Open Construction Project

The safety and risk management procedures to protect construction workers are regulatory requirements, and project managers are usually well-versed in the specific federal or state OSHA mandates. The safety of the general public, on the other hand, is not regulated in the same way. There is no doubt that public safety is an important issue, and many OSHA regulations designed to protect employees also protect the public as an ancillary benefit, but the lack of clear regulations opens construction projects to varied interpretations of phrases such as “reasonable expectations,” “necessary precautions” and “customary measures” when accidents and litigations occur.

If unrestricted, pedestrians and casual passers-by will almost always encroach upon a project’s boundaries. Unlike workers, they will not be wearing hard hats and steel-toed boots. And of course, the vast majority of bystanders have limited or no understanding of basic construction safety precautions. They don’t understand the radius of a crane’s boom or the momentum associated with a suspended girder or generator. They have no experience with falling objects and cannot be expected to know how far a dropped tool can travel on an unfortunate bounce.

Project managers and foremen are not, however, left to devise safety measures on their own. The American National Standard Institute, together with the American Society of Safety Engineers, publishes a comprehensive consensus standard of safety guidelines that contractors and building owners can follow. This standard, titled “ANSI/ASSE A10.34-2001 (R2005), Protection of the Public on or Adjacent to Construction,” is designed to protect the general public from hazards associated with construction activities.

Although project managers are not required to follow the guidelines in this standard, it is always wise to do so. ANSI/ASSE standards are widely recognized by industry, and they are often easier to understand than the regulatory language in OSHA documents. Voluntary adherence to ANSI/ASSE A10.34 demonstrates a concern for public safety, and it serves as evidence that the project utilized the industry’s best practices to manage risks associated with the construction. This is an important point to be able to make when “reasonable expectations,” “necessary precautions” and “customary measures” are discussed at a trial.

The ANSI/ASSE standard for public safety during construction specifically addresses 14 safety hazards that are encountered during construction operations. Warning signs, lighting, netting, flaggers, barricades and the proper method for storing hazardous materials on a job site are all covered. These are issues that require specific safety devices, all of which can be obtained at online safety equipment sites like, but they are also issues that require careful thought and planning before any trenching ever takes place.

Don’t take risks when it comes to public safety. We have all the construction safety equipment you’ll need to keep the public safe during an open construction project!


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