Crane Industry Implements New Rules
No burden as long as you’re already prepared
After a long wait by the industry, OSHA finally made the new 29 CFR Part 1926, Cranes and Derricks in Construction Regulation official. While the industry has actively promoted the acceptance of new regulations for more than 10 years, it languished in government for the last six, and it has only been in the last couple of years, prompted by several high-profile accidents, that anyone outside the industry gave it any attention.
After such a long process to write the regulation, the effective date of Nov. 8, 2010 can't come quickly enough for some, while others complain there isn't enough time to become compliant with it. Those who use cranes are now asking how they are impacted by the regulation, even as training experts, industry associations, and others help individuals digest the document.
The experts that Crane Hot Line talked with all agreed that implementation will only be a burden for employers who have swept worker training and equipment maintenance under the rug for the last 10 years.
“It will have minimal financial impact to those who are doing things correctly,” said Joe Collins, an industry consultant with Joe Collins Crane and a member of the original Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee (C-DAC), which drafted the proposed document.
Likewise, Mike Riggs of I&I Sling said, “If employers are training their people correctly now, there will be no cost. If they’ve ignored training, then there will be a cost based on how large they are.”
Many in the industry see the new regulation as a solid document, but far from the last word on the issues it addresses. “I think this new code does a great job in helping address some of the hot buttons related to inspections and qualifications for workers, but we will still lose a lot of loads below the hook. I hope there’s some upgrading to it,” said Mike Parnell of Industrial Training International.
Debbie Dickinson of Crane Industry Services says the document is a great starting place. “The heritage of the crane and rigging industry is to self-regulate to be as safe, efficient, and productive as possible. The new OSHA rule should be viewed as the foundation, not the ultimate of all we can do to work safely.”
Among the key areas of the regulation is language dealing with the people on the job; proper set up and take down of cranes; other operational issues; and the use of related equipment, such as rigging gear and safety devices. Crane Hot Line asked industry experts to analyze the impact of the rule in these four areas. Here is what they believe you need to know to get prepared.
Operator certification (Section 1926.1427)
Debbie Dickinson is the CEO of Crane Industry Services, based in Atlanta, GA.
The effective date for the majority of the regulation is Nov. 8, 2010, but construction industry crane operators have four years—until Nov. 8, 2014—to earn and maintain an accredited certification. However, many states, municipalities, unions, and employers already require accredited operator certification. Employability will decrease for operators the longer they wait to become certified.
The regulation allows an individual to receive certification from the U.S. military, a licensed government entity, such as a state or city, or audited employer-provided program. None of these, however, are portable beyond that employer or jurisdiction.
A qualified, audited employer program may have some appeal to employers, however, the requirements for an employer-based program nearly mirror an accredited third-party certification. For example, an employer’s qualification must be developed by an accredited testing organization or audited by an accredited crane operator testing organization. The employer would still have to test operators, and auditors must be able to verify that an employer’s tests meet “nationally recognized test development criteria and are valid and reliable in assessing the operator...knowledge and skills.”
The hard cost and labor of employer qualification may exceed the cost of third-party accredited certification. In addition, an employer program is not portable. If an operator goes to another job, the credentials remain with the employer and may not follow the operator in an employer-based program. Likewise, a newly hired operator would have to be documented by the new employer to the same extent. Accredited third-party certifications are portable for operators going from one employer to another.
Employers must pay for crane operator certifications, at no cost to the operator. In addition, employers must provide training and a trainer must monitor operators-in-training. With limited exceptions, for short 15-minute breaks with minimal and defined operations, if any, “the operator’s trainer and the operator-in-training must be in direct line of sight of each other…they must communicate verbally or by hand signals.” Employee trainers must be certified operators.
Today, there are three, equally accredited certification organizations to provide third-party crane operator certification. Organizations that meet the full requirements of final OSHA rule include, in alphabetical order: Crane Institute Certification (CIC); the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER); National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).
The use of calculators has been a debate specifically related to certification testing, and the new regulation now permits them. Operators may be tested for certification verbally or “in any language the candidate understands.” Operators do not have to have practical exams on every crane they operate. For example, operators passing tests on a 100-ton telescoping boom crane are deemed qualified and certified on lesser-capacity cranes of this same type.
Signalperson (Section 1926.1428)
Mike Parnell is the co-founder & technical director of Industrial Training International, Woodland, Wash., which specializes in crane and rigging training and consulting. He is a board member of the Association of Crane and Rigging Professionals. Active in industry standards committees, he is vice chairman of ASME B30 main committee and a voting member of several B30 subcommittees.
This regulation now requires a level of knowledge that’s unprecedented in a formal way. The signalperson is required to have knowledge of crane operations and understand how a signal affects the crane’s capability and capacity. Signalpersons used to simply be a separate set of eyes on the ground, helping the operator get the load from Point A to Point B. Now the person in this position is more accountable to help the whole crew and to ensure the load is taken along a path that minimizes risk to others and lowers the risk to the crane.
For example, a signalperson needs to know that booming down typically loses capacity, booming up gains capacity, boom extend loses capacity, and boom retract gains capacity. This is a level of responsibility that the signalperson has not had before.
In addition, signalpersons must prove they are capable of signaling by written or oral testing and by performance. It wasn’t that long ago for the youngest, least experienced person to be assigned the task of signaling because the seasoned people were involved in rigging, blocking, and load-handling activities.
Today, at least two groups offer qualification using the certification method, and more are on the horizon. But be careful with the word “certified.” While a certified signalperson would meet OSHA’s requirements, OSHA only calls for a “qualified” signalperson. That can be achieved in a variety of ways: Employers can offer their own documented program or candidates can be tested by a third-party evaluator, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a certifying group. The advantage of using a certifying group, however, is that the signalperson’s qualifications are portable from job to job.
One other key point: In the section on signaling, information on hand signals and radio communication has expanded, and now calls for a formal three-step process. Those steps are: 1) function and direction, 2) distance or speed, and 3) function and stop. These steps are also identified in ANSI B30.5 in the same vernacular.
However, the new regulation was not so detailed with its wording on what defines a “qualified” rigger. The rule calls for a qualified rigger, but it doesn’t go much further than that.
Rigger (Section 1926.251, 753, 1401, 1404, 1425)
While it’s a start that OSHA has identified the need for qualified riggers, it is unfortunate that the regulation doesn’t spell out what a qualified rigger needs to know. In any given year I am reviewing a half dozen cases involving rigging accidents. I’m just one of many people who regularly deal with those cases in court. There are still hundreds of rigging accidents that don’t get OSHA’s attention. In the construction crane arena, the assembly/disassembly director must have a qualified rigger performing the rigging (see 1926.1404). Also, in the general rigging of materials on the construction site, OSHA requires the materials to be rigged by a qualified rigger (see 1926.1425).
The steel erector’s code, Subpart R, also names the rigger but goes a step further. In 1926.753.(c)(2), for example, “the qualified rigger shall inspect in accordance with 1926.251,” and it talks more about the actions of the rigger throughout that entire section and how his efforts contribute to safe load handling.
I believe the biggest issue for employers will be determining which employees meet the definition of a qualified rigger. Nationally accredited certification programs have Qualified Rigger (CIC) and Rigger Level 2 (NCCCO) testing available that appear to meet the intent of the OSHA requirement. Both groups also offer a “basic” certification, however, the candidate is not required to prove ability to solve problems, make any calculations of weights or sling tensions, nor make rigging decisions independent of a qualified rigger.
(Section 1926.1401, 1419, 1421)
Ryan Warren is director of construction law at Hensley, Kim & Holzer LLC, a Denver-based law firm. He represents construction companies, developers, owners, and crane rental companies throughout the midwestern and western United States.
Even though we’ve been hearing so much about OSHA’s new regulation, ANSI B30 standards will continue to provide more specific guidance than the regulations do in numerous areas. In fact, portions of the 2004 ANSI B30 standard are specifically incorporated into the new regulation by reference.
The new OSHA regulation discusses “lift director,” but not in much detail, even though it defines other personnel designations in the Definitions section. Though it is not referenced specifically in the regulation, the 2007 ANSI B30.5 definition of “lift director” should probably be studied and known.
Competent person: A “competent person,” according to the new regulation, is someone who has the ability, through training or experience, to identify a problem at the jobsite and has the authority to correct that problem. The important thing for someone in charge of crane operations to remember is that one must be able to document that the chosen competent person actually did have the training or experience for their particular position. One question that arises: What level of ability are we talking about? Education and training must be matched with proper experience. This is one of those issues that will require consideration and some analysis by the person assigning the “competent person” to various tasks at the jobsite.
Qualified person: OSHA essentially defines a “qualified person” as one who has “demonstrated” they can do the job. A careful reading of the definition, however, reveals that it does not state that the qualified person must actually have demonstrated their proficiency through any verbal, written, or practical test. They must simply show through a “degree, certificate, or professional standing” or through their “knowledge, training, and experience” that they are “qualified.” Does that mean that to be a “qualified rigger,” all I need to do is show that I had the title “rigger” at my last job? In other words, that I have the “professional standing” of a rigger, irrespective of whether my last employer had the ability to determine if I was a properly trained rigger or not? Reading the definitions, it sure sounds like it to me.
Signalperson and lift director: Importantly, as discussed above, there are personnel designations used in OSHA’s new regulation that are not in the Definitions section. These include signalperson and lift director. Signalperson is a fairly obvious designation and there are specific requirements within the new regulation regarding this position, including the requirement that all signalpersons, “demonstrate that he/she meets the requirements…through an oral or written test, and through a practical test.” Clearly OSHA felt it necessary to go beyond the requirements for riggers when considering the signalperson.
A word search reveals “lift director” is used five times in the reg. The first three times it is followed by the phrase “where there is one.” For example, under “hand signals,” the regulations states: “When using non-standard hand signals, the signalperson, operator, and lift director (where there is one) must contact each other prior to the operation and agree on the non-standard hand signals that will be used.”
Interestingly, in the final two usages “of lift director,” under the “Multiple-crane/derrick lifts—supplemental requirements” section, there is no follow-up of the words “where there is one,” indicating OSHA is requiring a lift director where there are multiple cranes used on a lift.
The preamble to the regulation is OSHA’s discussion of their intent behind discussing or not discussing certain areas within the regulations. The preamble is long, but extremely valuable to review in conjunction with the regulations. Only by carefully reviewing the preamble to the regulation can one determine the definition of lift director with any certainty. OSHA states that it “has decided to replace the term ‘lift supervisor’ with the term ‘lift director’ in 1926.1419(c) (2), 1926.1421(a), and 1926.1421(c).” This is not a direct definition, but OSHA is clear that lift director means the supervisor of the lift.
Since lift director is used without the words “where there is one,” only in connection with multiple-crane lifts, apparently OSHA is only requiring lift directors in those specific instances.
OSHA’s new crane regulation, while clarifying the qualifications a signalperson must have, still leaves significant discretion to those who own, supervise, and operate cranes every day. These people will necessarily have to remain vigilant, know the regulation, and carefully interpret the requirements of each jobsite.
SETUP & TAKE DOWN
Assembly and disassembly (Section 1926.1404)
Robert Weiss, Cranes Inc., was one of 23 industry professionals who sat on the Crane and Derrick Negotiated Rulemaking Committee (C-DAC). He represented the Allied Building Metal Industries, a trade association of New York City’s steel erection contractors. Weiss is also a certifi ed mobile crane inspector and vice president of Cranes Inc., a crane rental company in New York City.
According to a recent study conducted by the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, entitled, “Crane-Related Fatalities in the Construction Industry,” 21percent of all fatalities involving cranes occur during the assembly/disassembly process. Behind powerline contact, crane assembly/disassembly problems are the single greatest cause of crane accidents in this country. With this in mind, the C-DAC committee sought to address this serous hazard as one of its top priorities.
Section 1926.1404 requires employers to utilize an assembly/disassembly (A/D) director with a thorough knowledge and understanding of A/D procedures. This supervisor must ensure that the A/D crew members understand their individual tasks and the associated hazards before allowing assembly or disassembly to begin. Further, the A/D director is required to consider specific hazards, determine the appropriate means for addressing them, and oversee implementation.
Hazards to be addressed by the A/D director are site and ground bearing conditions; blocking material and proper location of blocking; assist crane loading, boom and jib pick points, and center of gravity; stability upon pin removal, snagging of suspension ropes and pendants; struck by counterweights; boom hoist brake failure; loss of backward stability; and wind speed and weather.
Many of these potential hazards are not obvious to those with limited expertise in assembly/disassembly. There are numerous scenarios in which there is stored kinetic energy in the equipment’s component parts, and the installation or removal of components in the wrong order, or using the wrong procedure, can release the energy in ways that would be unexpected to those with little knowledge of the process.
Take the example of blocking under boom sections during disassembly. Failure to place blocking in the correct position under the boom can lead to unexpected movement or collapse when a pin that is in tension is removed. Workers unfamiliar with the concept of pins in tension may not recognize the dangers of removing such a pin in that circumstance, which could result in serious injury and/or damage to the equipment.
Inspections (Sections 1926.1404, 1412, 1435, 1436)
Coupled with the A/D director’s obligation are new requirements for post-assembly inspections. For example, Paragraphs 1926.1404(m) (2) and 1926.1412(c)(1) mandate that the equipment be inspected by a qualified person upon completion of assembly to ensure that the proper components were utilized and that the equipment is configured correctly. Even though this type of inspection was not required under the old OSHA code, its addition addresses the dangers associated with incorrectly assembled equipment.
For example, if the applicable load chart is based on a certain amount of counterweight and not all of the required counterweight is present, then the load chart will not accurately reflect the machine’s capacity, which could easily result in the equipment toppling over. For tower cranes, post-assembly inspection requirements are expanded to include a load test using certified weights or weights that have been measured using a certified scale. [See Paragraph 1926.1435(f)(3). Similar load tests are also required for derricks under Paragraph 1926.1436(g)(3)]. The new standard also includes a special pre-erection inspection requirement for tower cranes. Under Paragraph 1926.1435(f)(2), a qualified person must inspect the crane’s components for damage or excessive wear before they are erected, paying particular attention to components that will be difficult to inspect during shift inspections.
Ground conditions (Section 1926.1402)
Recent crane incident studies also indicate that improper ground conditions are one of the top four contributors to crane accidents, accounting for 11 percent of fatalities during crane use. Subpart R was cognizant of this fact years before C-DAC was even convened, requiring the controlling contactor to ensure the steel erector is
provided a firm and properly graded area for crane set-up.
Just like the Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (SENRAC), C-DAC recognized that there are several key problems regarding ground conditions. First, cranes are commonly brought to the site by a subcontractor, who typically has no control over ground conditions or any knowledge of hidden hazards. As a result, when ground conditions are inadequate, the subcontractor is typically unable to correct those conditions. And, attempts to get other entities at the site to correct the conditions are often unsuccessful. The result is that cranes get set up on improperly prepared ground, often with disastrous consequences. Section 1926.1402 was created to address this major problem, and to afford all workers, not just those covered by Subpart R, the necessary protection from this danger.
Under Paragraph 1926.1402(c), the controlling entity must ensure that ground preparations necessary to properly support the equipment are provided, which means the ground must be turned over to the employer in a firm, drained and graded condition suitable for crane operations. You will note that the new regulation introduces the term “controlling entity” in lieu of “controlling contractor” (as was used in Subpart R). The continued use of the term “controlling contractor” could lead to the mistaken belief that the requirement to ensure proper ground conditions only applies to general contractors, when in many cases there are entities other than a general contractor that have overall supervisory control of a worksite.
Power line safety (Section 1926.1407-1411)
Joe Collins is president of Joe Collins Crane, a heavy lift and crane consulting firm in San Antonio, Texas. He previously worked for Zachry Construction, where he managed their crane and rigging department and he served on the C-DAC committee.
The C-DAC committee worked hours on the power line safety section because it’s been such a problem plaguing our industry. Power line owners told us they use “layers” to protect their employees. The idea is, if you have several “layers of protection” built into your safety program, if one fails, there are many more available to protect the employee. A proximity device, to warn the operator when he is approaching a power line, is one example. Another would be barricades placed 20 feet away from power lines. There are many things one can do to establish more layers, and you can’t have too many.
The new OSHA rule sets power line clearance at 20 feet, simply because the previous rule has never worked. Power line incidents are still the No. 1 cause of crane accidents worldwide. The previous rule included a limit of 10 feet away up to 50,000 volts, and 0.4 inch further for every additional 1,000 volts. It was never effective in preventing power line contacts and the injuries that resulted. Although not the total solution, the new rule is easy to understand, easy to implement, and will save lives.
Crane users must read, learn, and train to the actual text in the regulation, but an unofficial summary of it is this: There are three zones of operation. In the green zone, if you’re back as far away as the length of boom plus 20 feet, you can’t touch the power line. There isn’t much to do in this situation, except remind everybody the power lines are there. The yellow zone represents a distance closer than the length of the boom plus 20 feet. In this instance, there is a potential to contact the power line inadvertently, so you must implement several layers of protection. For example, if there are 10 methods listed, you may perform five, as well as any more you may come up with, such as additional insulating on the lines. The red zone is prohibited, where some part of the crane or load is within that 20-foot distance.
However, there are exceptions. The distance is 20 feet for voltages less than 350,000 volts; and increases to 50 feet for 350,000 volts and higher. Up to 50,000 volts still requires 10 feet of clearance; from 50,000 to 200,000, the clearance increases to 15 feet. All of that stands, providing you know the voltage. If you don’t know the voltage, then you stay back at least 20 feet, period.
Some protection methods can represent an investment for the employer, such as hiring a spotter whose only job is to observe the distance of the crane and its load to the power source warning the operator if the crane or load is getting too close, or investing in an insulated link which can start at about $4,000. However, 90 percent of these layers of protection can be done for free or next to free. It just takes brainstorming to come up with different ways to establish more layers. The expense comes in when you have a contact. Even without an injury, you damage your equipment.
Fall protection (Section 1926.1423)
Now we’re allowed to have walkways on the booms. This was prohibited in the past because walkways had to have a toe plate, a mid-rail, and a top rail of 32 inches. That wouldn’t work on a crane boom, so riggers had to balance on pipes, or get up there with ladders. That made it more unsafe than having a walkway without handles. American manufacturers couldn’t install walkways on booms, but cranes from Europe had them. Now it’s universal to use walkways on the boom as long as you provide attachment points for employees to tie off so they can’t fall down.
New cranes will be required to have the walkways when the fall hazard is 6 feet or more. It’s another optional feature that won’t cost anything to the crane owner, and ironworkers and riggers will be so relieved to have some place to work. The regulation basically gives the industry permission to do this if they see fit.
What’s not optional: Walking and stepping surfaces must have slip-resistant features. A lot of people slip and fall off the crane just getting up into the cab. Hand and grab rails must meet OSHA requirements and be substantial. All cranes require safe egress to be provided from the ground to the cab and machinery platforms. That includes tower cranes. The old rule said you had to have guards in place of any moving parts, and hand rails for anything 6 feet off the ground. Now it’s spelled out in black and white.
Another major change: “For assembly/disassembly work, the employer must provide and ensure the use of fall protection equipment for employees who are on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge more than 15 feet above a lower level, except when the employee is at or near draw-works (when the equipment is running), in the cab, or on the deck.” Previously the rule was 6 feet.
The major point I think will be helpful to the industry is that now we’re allowed to attach our fall-arrest system to a crane hook as long as it’s not holding a load. If we’re up on a crane doing some work and there’s another crane there for assembly, fall protection lanyards can be attached to the hook of the assist crane. Until now, there was nowhere to attach the harness. This is going to be helpful to the industry, and again, it’s another option.
There’s training involved with every part of the regulation, and if there is any cost involved in fall protection, that would be it. New crane models have the necessary grab rails and hand rails where they need to be, so I don’t see any additional cost. But crane owners must maintain these crane parts like any other.
Synthetic slings (Section 1926.1404)
Mike Riggs is the manager of the Knoxville, Tenn., branch of I&I Sling and director of training for Slingmax Rigging Solutions. He is currently president of the Association of Crane and Rigging Professionals and is the author of The Complete Rigger’s Reference Handbook.
Synthetic slings must be protected from being cut by load edges, corners, protrusions and abrasive surfaces. There’s no change to the regulation’s wording, because that’s been industry practice. But, the new OSHA regulation puts some weight behind what the Web Sling & Tie Down Association, and synthetic sling manufacturers, have been instructing riggers to do for years.
However, one of the biggest changes—that rigging work must be done by a qualified rigger—has an impact on the protection of synthetic slings. I view this wording: “or by knowledge, training and experience and success in demonstrating…” as meaning some type of qualification process. You just can’t say you’ve been a rigger for 30 years and that you know how to properly inspect a synthetic sling. You have to justify that the qualified rigger really is qualified by some means of proof.
And to prove it, I think you have to have successful completion of training, be able to document the training, and verify that the person understood the training. That’s what “qualified person” means—more than experience. A person can have 30 years of experience yet no one’s ever showed them how to look at a synthetic sling or taught them what is proper protection and what isn’t.
Unfortunately, successful execution of this part of the regulation is going to fall back on the quality of the rigger. Manufacturers always preach protection, proper use, inspection, and conservative out-of service criteria, but OSHA’s never stated it.
The only thing that disappoints me about the new regulation is the rule on slings is no better than 29 CFR 1926.251(c)(9), which is still referred to in the new reg. It contains limited instruction on the slings, and the instruction is outdated. Yet in this new regulation, basically, everything falls back on the manufacturer. They could have referenced the ASME B30.9, section, but chose not to. Construction companies cannot easily use the same manufacturer when many do work in all parts of the country and all around the world. Manufacturers’ warnings usually go out with the sling and may not be attached to it. Plus most riggers in the field don’t know all manufacturers’ trademarks and
are not likely to contact them.
Further, manufacturers can’t list all inspection criteria on the tag. Tags generally include the phrase, “Follow ASME B30.9 standards for proper use and inspection of the sling.” And that phrase is used for all types of slings because B30.9 is all-inclusive so far. But there is a need for some sort of regulatory standard anyone can get and have on the shelf.
Wire rope (Sections 1926.1413 and 1926.1414)
Mike Parnell is the president of Industrial Training International, Inc., Woodland, Wash. ITI provides crane and rigging training/consulting for U.S. and global clients. He is the ASME B30 Main Committee Vice-Chair, a member of fi ve B30 Subcommittees, CIC Rigging Certification Committee Chair, and is a charter member of the Association of Crane & Rigging Professionals.
Where wire rope is concerned, the new OSHA regulation includes a substantial enhancement. The old location was 1926.550(a)(7) , and it was fairly limited. There are now three categories, and the new designation points are 1926.1413 and 1414.
Category I deals with physical abuse related to wire rope, such as crushing, kinks, corrosion, and other things that can detrimentally affect the rope. It calls out for each shift to have a visual inspection but they don’t have to boom down to do that. Then it requires a monthly and an annual inspection, both of which are documented. The new regulation is more helpful and specific than the old requirements.
Category II has to do with broken wires and reduction of rope diameter of six-stranded, rotation-resistant, and pendant lines. A big difference in the regulation is the rule on the reduction of rope diameter of more than 5 percent from nominal diameter. An adjustment will be made across the B30 volumes with this rule. Previously, the regulation provided imperial measurements. Now, 5 percent is deemed sensible because it allows for a comparison regardless of whether the rope is imperial or metric. Almost all tower cranes use metric rope, so no imperial values would correspond to the published reference size.
Category III is for special issues related to core failure, power-line contact, or a broken strand. It’s a catch-all, and if these issues exist, you stop the use of the rope and see if it can be salvaged.
Another major change in the wire rope sections state that if these deficiencies are identified or located, it is possible to cut the rope to remove that bad section. You can’t rejoin the rope by splicing it. The whip line may get banged around and the rope chafed or some wires cut on the outside 10 feet from the headache ball. You can cut back 20 feet and reconnect the headache ball if you still have enough rope length to run the crane. A qualified person should determine if that rope is suitable to operate the crane. You should document how much rope was removed from the end, so new inspectors and the operator realize what is left for the rope length. This was done in practice, but nothing in print ever allowed it to be done before.
Other items point the inspector in the right direction, such as change of layer points or reverse bends where the rope bends 180° one way and 180° another way through the sheave system. The regulation also includes a whole new section on rope selection and installation criteria. Some of the items were already implemented in B30.5 documents, based on what application the rope is going to be serving, and whether it’s a standing rope or a running rope. It drives the industry to the manufacturer or a qualified person for help in making those decisions.
OSHA has substantially improved the overall inspection requirements for cranes. The frequency and detail will substantially help our industry by having competent and qualified persons evaluating crane components on a more regular basis.
Safety devices and operational aids
(Sections 1926.1415 and 1926.1416)
Brian Considine, president of Skyazul Equipment Solutions in Maryland, serves on the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the ISO TC/96 Crane Technical Committee and the SAE Crane Technical Subcommittee for Cranes and Lifting Devices.
Safety Devices: The new regulation specifically reinforces the rule that safety devices are essential, are required to be present, and in good working order. Previously there wasn’t a clear definition of what safety devices had to exist or a clear differentiation between safety devices and operational aids. These required safety devices include a crane level indicator, boom stops, jib stops, locks for foot pedal brakes, an integral holding device/check valve for hydraulic outrigger jacks and an operator controlled horn. The rule requires that if any device listed is not in proper working order, the equipment must be taken out of service and operations must not resume until the device is working properly. Alternative measures are not to be used.
Operational Aids: The new regulation defines operational aids as devices that assist the operator in the safe operation of the crane by providing information or automatically taking control of a crane function. The new regulation states that operations must not begin unless the listed operational aids are in proper working order, except where an operational aid is being repaired. In that case, the employer uses the specified temporary alternative measures.
The regulation identifies two categories of operational aids, and defines a period of time permitted for repairing defective operational aids. The regulation then lists specific alternative methods to utilize, if those aids are not functioning. Category 1 aids comprises the boom hoist limiting device; luffing jib limiting device; and an anti-two block device, all of which must be repaired within seven days. Category 2 aids are a boom angle or radius indicator; luffing jib angle indicator; boom length indicator for telescopic cranes; and load weighing or similar devices. These must be repaired within 30 days.
The new regulation specifically requires that any telescopic crane manufactured since Feb. 28, 1992, must be equipped with an anti-two block device that automatically prevents damage from contact between a load block, overhead ball, or similar component, and the boom tip. Lattice boom cranes manufactured since Feb. 28, 1992, must have an anti-two block warning device and beginning in 2012 lattice boom cranes must be equipped with an anti-two block device that automatically prevents damage.
Equipment manufactured after March 29, 2003, with a rated capacity over 6,000 pounds must have at least one of the following: load weighing device, load moment (or rated capacity) indicator, or load moment (or rated capacity) limiter.
In all cases, if a listed operational aid stops working properly, the operator must stop operations until temporary alternative measures are implemented or the device is again working properly. The new regulation defines what alternative measures can be used if an operational aid is not working properly. For example, for a non-functioning load weighing device, the weight of the load must be determined by a source recognized by the industry, such as the load’s manufacturer, or by industry-recognized calculation methods such as density and volume. The lift supervisor must verify what the load weighs, and make sure the operator has that information prior to the lift.
The previous standard didn’t address these issues. It required an anti-two block device when lifting personnel, but it didn’t clearly define what to do when an operational aid wasn’t working. Operational aid technology and their uses have evolved significantly since the previous regulation was written. This rule now provides the industry with a clear guidance for their use in safe and efficient crane operations.
The regulation now clearly states that a competent person must perform a visual inspection and verify proper operation of safety devices and operational aids on a daily and monthly basis. It also states that an annual comprehensive inspection by a qualified person is required to confirm the accuracies of the operational aids.
In the past, the practice has been to simply address the non-working systems and components during the scheduled crane maintenance. Now, if there is an operational aid failure during a job, the employer will be required to shut the machine down or implement alternative measures. This will encourage crane owners to take preventive measures to ensure systems remain operational, just as they would with other key components of the crane.
While this regulation will likely add an immediate burden on some smaller companies and contractors, a majority of crane professionals are already using practices similar to those outlined in the regulation. The end result will most certainly be a safer workplace.