OSHA Final Crane Rule Update

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5 takeaways from what was published on May 21, 2018

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), published a notice to the proposed rule making of the “new cranes standard” originally announced on November 10, 2010 (75 FR 47905). All 40,461 words of the notice are publicly available and can be found hereAlternatively, continue reading for 5 key takeaways.

1. Goodbye Capacity Requirement

Arguably, the most significant takeaway from the recently published notice addresses the much-discussed requirement to certify based on capacity of the crane. According to the May 21 notice:

“While testing organizations differed over whether a certification by capacity provided any use information to an employer, most agreed that capacity is just one factor to be considered in the employer’s overall evaluation of the operator’s ability. OSHA is unaware of any direct evidence establishing a safety benefit for requiring certification by capacity. For these reasons, OSHA has preliminary determined that, if the employer duty becomes a permanent requirement, employee certification by capacity of crane should no longer be required; rather, it should merely be an option for those employers who wish to use it. (Federal Register/Vol. 83, No. 90, pg. 23542)

OSHA has requested public comments on this specific topic within the full proposal. The deadline to submit a comment is June 20, 2018. Comments can be submitted here.

2. Industry Stakeholder Data & Research

Between June 2013 and March 2015, OSHA went on a fact-finding mission via active industry stakeholders. Data was gathered from more than 40 site visits, conference calls, and meetings, focusing on organization’s experience in terms of training, evaluation, and competency of crane operators. Stakeholders included:

  • Crane Rental Companies
  • Construction Companies (Crane Owners)
  • Training Organizations
  • Crane Manufacturers
  • Labor Unions
  • State and Provincial (British Columbia) Agencies
  • Crane Insurers

Notes from the site visits, conference calls, and meetings were combined into draft reports, and eventually, full written reports that were made available to all participating stakeholders. Key findings and themes from the written reports include:

  • Many industry representatives were unclear that the crane standard only requires employers to ensure certification. (Evaluation not required)
  • Regardless of what the standard requires, industry influences would not lead to employers of crane operators to solely depend on certification to ensure operator competency.
  • Stakeholders would not default to allowing an operator to run a crane exclusively on the basis of holding valid certified operator status.
  • Most stakeholders value third-party certification, but do not feel that it is a standalone when it comes to operator competency.
  • OSHA determined that all participating organizations still evaluate operators, irrespective of certification status.

3. Operator Competency Requirements

File this under the "how we got here" section. The May 21, 2018 notice states:

“Under the new crane standard, except for employees of the U.S. military and the operation of some specified equipment, employees were required to allow only certified operators to operate equipment after November 10, 2014.” (Federal Register/Vol. 83, No. 90, pg. 23535)

4. Operator Certification Requirements

Nothing explicitly new here. However, important information in building the context to the current reality of the crane rule. An abbreviated timeline:

  • 1998-2003: OSHA’s Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) tasked with studying crane issues. ACCSH ultimately recommends rules are revised to include best practices from ASME/ANSI B30 Standards.
  • 2003: Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rule-making Advisory Committee (C-DAC), is established with the goal of developing a proposal through consensus.
  • 2003-2004: C-DAC meets 11 times.
  • Similar to ACCSH, C-DAC determines that qualification and training requirements in 1926.20(b)(4) and 1926.21(b)(2) are ineffective, and proposes written and practical examinations for crane operators.

5. Operator Training Requirements

Proposed paragraph (b) seeks to establish conditions concerning operator training including:

Minimum Requirements

“The proposed training requirements…would clarify that employers must continue to address operator training needs after the operator has been certified and demonstrated competency though employer evaluation on specific equipment.”

Furthermore,

“The proposal recognizes that even a certified and evaluated operator may need additional training to safely operator new equipment or perform significantly different types of lifts. Therefore, the employer’s duty to train must be met as the operator’s operating experiences expand.” (Federal Register/Vol. 83, No. 90, pg. 23545)

Requirements for Trainers

Concerning Trainer requirements, the proposed states,

“OSHA concluded that passing a written certification test is not a definitive indicator of safe training practices in the industry and requiring certification of all trainers could significantly alter many existing work practices in the industry.”

Continuing,

“…although some public commentors [sic] at the March 31-April 1, 2015 ACCSH meeting supported requiring trainers to possess a certification, OSHA proposes to adopt language similar to the requirement in ASME B30.5 (2014) at 5-3.1.2(e) that training performed by a ‘designated person who, by experience and training, fulfills the requirements of a qualified person.’” (Federal Register/Vol. 83, No. 90, pg. 23546)

The idea being that the proposed language allows an adequate amount of flexibility when it comes to defining the level of knowledge and experience a trainer must hold. Once again, OSHA requests public comments on this topic, with the deadline to submit June 20, 2018.

Limitation on Activities for "Operators-in-Training"

Some of the proposed alteration regarding the scope of activities for operators-in-training are also covered in proposed paragraph (b).

“…requires that an operator-in-training be monitored while operating the equipment at all times except for short breaks and retains the conditions specified under the existing paragraph for that monitoring.” It continues, “…a break can last no longer than 15 minutes and can occur no more than once per hour.”

Additionally,

“…requires the employer to ensure that the trainer and operator-in-training communicate about the tasks, if any that can and cannot be performed in the trainer’s absence while on break.” (Federal Register/Vol. 83, No. 90, pg. 23547)

As future language, interpretations and changes become available, ITI will continue to be a resource for questions concerning the OSHA Final Cranes and Derricks Rule. Questions and concerns can be submitted at www.iti.com/questions or you can speak with a Training Solutions Advisor by calling 800.727.6355.

Other OSHA Final Crane Rule Resources from ITI include:

Synthetic Sling Inspection [Video]
LITES Podcast E05 - $150B is Spent on Workforce Training & Development. Is it a Waste?

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Industrial Training International
Industrial Training International

Cranes | Rigging | Lift Planning | Engineering | VR Simulation

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