OSHA Proposes to Extend Deadline for Crane Operator Certification

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By Tina Stanczewski, Esq., MSP

OSHA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to extend for the second time the deadline for compliance with the crane operator certification and competency requirements. Originally, the certification and compliance parts were extended until November 2014; then prior to the effective date, OSHA extended the provisions until November 2017. The new proposed deadline is Nov. 10, 2018. 

The Cranes and Derricks standard was issued in August 2010, but concerns over the certification and competency aspects of the rule have created multiple extensions to enforcement. According to OSHA, the latest extension will allow the agency to respond to stakeholder concerns that have not been finalized during the past three years of the extension. “The primary rationale for this proposal is to maintain the status quo, including preservation of the employer duty to ensure that crane operators are competent, while providing OSHA additional time to conduct rulemaking on the crane operator requirements in response to stakeholder concerns," the agency states

The current standard requires employers to: 1) execute training of crane operators to ensure they have the knowledge and ability to operate a crane safely; 2) evaluate a crane operator’s abilities after training; and 3) ensure that crane operators can safely operate the equipment. The rule imposed significant changes by requiring certification expanding an employer’s duty to confirm operators are competent. The certification process, not yet in effect, can be obtained through various means, including state and local licensing requirements, third-party audited training or an accredited service. It requires a written exam and practical test. Industry still has concerns over the execution of this process and the assessment of competency.

The rule was initially developed through the Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (C-DAC), which voiced concern over OSHA’s interpretation of the rule from the beginning. The rule required the following:

  • Competence: Operators must have the training and experience to operate the equipment safely.
  • Training: Employees who are not “competent,” meaning having the required knowledge or ability to operate the equipment safely, must be trained before operating the equipment.
  • Evaluation: Employees who are not “competent" must be evaluated to confirm that they understand the information provided in the training. Evaluation must occur on same make and model that an operator will be assigned to use.
  • Certification: Until certified for the type of equipment, an operator is an “operator-in-training” and must be under constant supervision.
  • Documentation: Operators must carry documentation about their assessment.
  • Reevaluation: Annual reevaluation is necessary as well as needed if the situation warrants.

Since 2014, much activity has surrounded the enforcement of the rule. Industry, including the C-DAC, stated, “It was never the intent of C-DAC that crane operator certification should be according to the capacity of the crane . . . nor . . . to imply that crane operator certification was equal to qualification.” During 2015 both the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) and the House of Representatives weighed in on the rule, specifically the capacity requirement. ACCSH advised that OSHA should only focus on the qualification of the operator as a “qualified person." The House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the Workforce focused on state regulations that do not use capacity as a factor.

As a result, OSHA advised that certification “will only be by type of crane—not by capacity. Many states impose similar or stricter standards for crane operators than the delayed rule. These include California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.

Comments may be submitted at https://www.regulations.gov through Sept. 29, 2017.

Tina Stanczewski, Esq., MSP, is an attorney with the Law Office of Adele L. Abrams PC. Abrams is ASSE's federal representative.




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