11 Significant Points to Note
It was a long, meticulous process, but the much ballyhooed “Final Rule” on crane and derrick operators in construction was published by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) via the Federal Register on November 9, 2018. Coming in at over 50,000 words, digesting the Final Rule in its entirety is a daunting task. That is why your friends at ITI picked out 11 key takeaways from the Final Rule.
1. The Final Rule becomes effective on December 9, 2018.
The December 9, 2018 execution date reflects 30 days from the publication in the Federal Register.
2. The Final Rule establishes minimum requirements for determining operator competency.
All operators of cranes and derricks in construction related activities are subject to the new Final Rule. OSHA expects the effect of the new Final Rule to be two-fold: (1) maintain safety and health protections for workers, and (2) reduce the amount of compliance related burdens.
3. Employer 3-Step process to “qualification.”
Paragraph (a) in subpart CC of 29 CFR 1926 clearly defines the employer’s responsibility to ensure that their operators are qualified to operate equipment (cranes and derricks) without continuous supervision. This responsibility can be summarized as the employer’s duty to train, certify or license, and evaluate operators. According to OSHA, the three-step process to train, certify or license, and evaluate operators is how the regulatory text defines qualification. The revised language in the new Final Rule clarifies confusion from the previous standard, specifically making clear distinctions between certification and evaluation.
4. OSHA determined that certification by “type and capacity” creates unnecessary regulatory obligation, without adding safety benefit.
Testing organizations are not required to issue certifications distinguished by rated capacity of equipment but are permitted to do so if they choose. The new Final Rule is clear that certification by equipment “type” as well as certification by equipment “type and capacity” is acceptable and is ultimately up to the discretion of the employer.
5. The Final Rule continues to require operator training.
Language in the Final Rule uses the analogy of a standard driver’s license not being sufficient to ensure safe driving of all vehicle types in all conditions, to crane operator certification on its own, as an appropriate indication of operator knowledge and skill. The Final Rule transparently calls for employers to train and evaluate operators when needed as required steps in the process to ensure safe crane operation.
6. OSHA expects cost savings because of the Final Rule.
OSHA has determined that the most significant costs of the changes expressed in the New Final Rule will be discovered around the requirements of the employer to perform and document competency evaluations. The total number of operators OSHA estimates to be impacted is 117,130, with an annual cost to the industry as a whole to be just over $1.6 million. Conversely, cost savings from dropping the requirement that crane operators be certified by capacity is a one-time figure of $25.6 million.
7. The Final Rule permanently maintains the employer’s duty to evaluate its operators.
The Final Rule amends language from the 2010 crane standard by making permanent the employer’s duty to evaluate their crane operators. The important take away from this update is the clear separation of certification and evaluation. The two are not interchangeable and make up two of the three pieces of what OSHA defines as crane operator qualification. The Final Rule calls out the employer as being in “the best position to evaluate an operator’s ability to use the specific crane for the specific tasks the employer assigns.”
8. The Final Rule specifies requirements on evaluations, re-evaluations, and documentation.
The Final Rule explicitly states that documentation of operator evaluations must be maintained as long as the operator is an active employee. Documentation of evaluations must include: operator name, operator signature, date of the evaluation, make, model and configuration of the equipment used in the evaluation. Although no specific format is required, the employer must make the document available for the entirety of the operator’s employment.
9. The Final Rule allows employers to reference operator assessments performed before the December 9, 2018 effective date.
Operator evaluations (assessments) administered before the date the new Final Rule takes effect will not be required to undergo a new evaluation of existing knowledge and skill. However, the evaluation document must contain the date of the employer’s determination of the operator’s abilities, as well as all other required fields of the evaluation documentation. This allowance was not included in the original proposed rule.
10. The Final Rule exempts operators who are employed by the U.S. military.
One of the only situations where the new Final Rule is superseded by other regulatory forces is crane operation when the U.S. military is the employer. In these situations, the Final Rule states that…OSHA defers to the operator qualification process of the U.S. military as the employer. This provision applies to both active military and non-uniformed personnel employed by the U.S. military.
11. When in doubt, “phone a friend.”
As mentioned previously, the Final Rule in its entirety can be overwhelming. When a situation arises where uncertainty present it is perfectly acceptable to pause and turn to a trusted reference. Be sure include to ITI on your reference list – click here to submit a technical question online or call 800.727.6355. Additional references include: