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Managing Safety on Multiemployer Work Sites

Nov 12, 2020

Construction sites are busy places. On any given day, you’ll find laborers, carpenters,Engineer using a tablet on a construction site electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, iron workers and others performing tasks across a potentially vast work site. With so many workers, often from different employers, performing potentially hazardous tasks, how can you ensure everyone is operating safely and understands their responsibilities to identify and mitigate those hazards?

The recently updated ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020 voluntary consensus standard sets safety and health program requirements for multiemployer projects, including establishing roles and responsibilities for all involved, and confirming that each team member knows how to address hazards they may encounter.

“The more complex a project is, the more likely it is to have multiple employers. Ideally, each employer will use best practices and have its own work method and its own safety processes,” says Richard Hislop, ANSI/ASSP A10.33 Subcommittee chair. “The challenge in a multiemployer project is to ensure that all employers work together to provide a safe workplace for all project employees, including their own.”     

ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020 is based on stated philosophy — new to this revision of the standard — about the challenges faced on multiemployer projects and how they can be addressed:

“Worker safety on construction and demolition projects is achieved when the entire project hierarchy, from the owner through to the craft workers, are engaged in the safety initiative of the project. Challenges in a multiemployer environment versus that of a single-employer environment are conveying the message that safety is important, overcoming perceived conflicts between safety and production, and communicating work activities, inherent safety hazards and controls between employers.”

Building on the foundation of previous versions of the standard, A10.33-2020 identifies key elements of safety success on multiemployer projects.

Project Organization

ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020 provides greater clarity on the organizational structure required for a safely executed multiemployer project by clearly identifying the project entities, as well as their specific roles and responsibilities regarding workplace safety and health, in accordance with OSHA regulations. These include:

  • Owner/Client: Must clearly establish its commitment to safety throughout the entire project.
  • Construction Manager – Agent: Responsible for implementing processes to ensure the owner’s requirements for safety are incorporated into design, specifications, planning and construction.
  • Project Designer: Ensures the project, as designed, can be constructed, operated and maintained safely.
  • Project Constructor: Responsible for managing contracted work and establishing a project-specific safety and health plan that will provide a safe work environment for all involved and ensure that it is implemented effectively.
  • Contractors/Sub-Tier Contractors: Must plan work with full awareness of hazards inherent in the chosen means and the work environment to ensure work is performed in a safe manner in accordance with the project-specific safety and health plan.
  • Suppliers: Responsible for coordinating with the project constructor to ensure materials are delivered to the site in a manner consistent with the project constructor’s site laydown plan.

Job Hazard Management

With so many different tasks being performed across the work site, it’s important to understand the potential hazards associated with each. A10.33 includes a job hazard management process you can use to assess both the tasks being performed and the measures being used to mitigate hazards workers may face.

“The standard addresses more comprehensively the concept of the hazard management process,” says Hislop. “It explains how the process is hierarchical both in its composition and its implementation.”

The main component of this process is a job hazard analysis, where contractors and sub-tier contractors identify the means that will be used to perform work, the associated hazards and the controls that will be implemented to protect workers.

Furthermore, at the start of each day or before a shift change, contractors should conduct a physical survey of work areas to identify hazards. They should also review any drawings, documents, the project hazard analysis and project-specific safety and health plan, and confer with other team members to understand any potential hazards. Contractors should also identify any hazards within the scope of work that could impact other project personnel and the public over the course of the project.

Daily Work Planning

New tasks are performed every day on construction sites, which introduces new hazards. Conducting daily work planning meetings allows the different entities involved to discuss the jobs being performed that day, the hazards and risks anticipated and mitigation measures.

“The concept of construction process planning is to determine the best approach to completing the project successfully, and success is measured by timeliness, affordability, efficiency and safety,” says Hislop.

Along with contractors and supervisors meeting on a daily basis, contractors and sub-tier contractors should meet with their crews at the start of the day and at shift changes to confirm each worker’s assignments and overall project activities are understood.

“Construction and demolition projects are, by their very nature, potentially dangerous. Generally, the more complex a project, the more participants there are, the more moving parts there are, and the more hazards there are,” Hislop explains. “Constant coordination and communication between the participants are fundamental to effective workplace safety."


Effective training is essential to the success of any construction project. For everyone involved to properly carry out their roles and responsibilities, they must know how to operate safely, identify hazards and apply control measures.

A10.33 identifies four types of training, each geared to a different group:

  • Supervisor Safety Orientation: Supervisors are required to receive a safety and health orientation before the project begins to learn how to train workers on hazards, the procedures for selecting appropriate control measures and PPE, responsibility and procedures for enacting corrective measures, work authority, and incident reporting and investigation requirements.
  • Project Safety Orientation: Before work begins, workers and supervisors must receive a project-specific safety and health orientation so they understand the project-specific safety and health plan.
  • Job-Specific Training: Project oversight personnel must ensure subcontractors have the appropriate training for the tasks they will be performing.
  • Toolbox Meetings: Held on at least a weekly basis for all employees on the work site, these meetings focus on topics determined by the senior project supervisor and site safety and health supervisor, and directly relate to safety challenges and requirements for current or upcoming work activities.

Hislop emphasizes that the hierarchical framework established by A10.33 is key to developing a construction working environment where everyone is aware of the work being performed and the steps needed to make sure work is done safely.

“The most important safety and health consideration for multiemployer work sites is having in place a clearly defined work planning, coordination and oversight process,” he says. “Only when each work crew member has a clear understanding of the hazards inherent in their own work process and the potential hazards created by others can they be effectively on guard for safety.”

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