OSHA’s Proposed Rule Change for Crane Operators

Author: Rene Garcia


When it comes to safety rules, it’s best to move slowly to ensure that all points of view are considered in order to minimize the risk of injury or death to any worker that falls under the governing rules. As such, a final rule change to crane operator certifications has been eight years in the making and may still not be implemented until 2019. Nevertheless, as this change affects safety compliance management, it’s good to get ahead of the implementation date to prepare your workforce and prevent a disruption to your supply chain.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Capacity Will No Longer Be a Limiting Factor

Currently, crane operation certification is limited by crane capacity. An operator is certified for a type of equipment and its load capacity which would also certify the operator for lower capacity equipment of the same type but not higher capacity. As an example, an operator certified for a 100-ton hydraulic crane would be certified for a 50-ton hydraulic crane but not a 200-ton hydraulic crane.

OSHA seeks to make this change, because they are unaware of any direct safety benefit from having the capacity requirement. Yet, this requirement can still be used by employers as an option for evaluating potential operators. This has raised some concerns with industry stakeholders.

2. More Responsibility is Placed on Employers

It appears as though employers are required to evaluate operators by standards beyond what OSHA is setting. According to OSHA, “a standardized test cannot replicate all of the conditions that operators will face on the jobsite.” While this is true, at least one group is pushing back on increased employer involvement.

“The standard would make certification akin to a driver’s learner permit requiring employers to still evaluate an operator’s skill and competency to operate equipment safely,” according to an attorney familiar with the matter. “The proposed standard is written in performance-oriented language and does not establish what specific skills must be assessed. As drafted, it is possible this requirement to evaluate an operator could change from job to job.”

3. Smaller Cranes Are Not Exempt

Some in the industry hoped that smaller cranes that have a capacity of 5 – 35 tons would be exempt from the OSHA standard entirely. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case, and operators who pilot these cranes will still need to be in compliance. OSHA found that the same hazards that are present for larger cranes are present in smaller equipment as well.

4. Certification Costs Are Paid by the Employer

The current rule is being amended to be more explicit regarding certification fees for crane operation. Employers must provide certification at no cost to the employee. This requirement is similar to providing personal protective equipment and medical exams at no cost.

5. The Effective Date Will Probably Be in 2019

After eight years which includes two extensions, it appears that the proposed rule will need more time before it becomes a final rule. OSHA has proposed requesting another six months to ensure all of the details are in order before moving forward. The original target date is November 8, 2018, but industry insiders are expecting a “no enforcement” order to take place at that time.

In many cases you will find that crane operation, handling of hazardous chemicals, or secure storage of sensitive material, are elements of services provided by contractors and suppliers.  And so, to minimize risk, and ensure compliance with OSHA regulations, these suppliers must be properly vetted – a sometimes detailed and time-consuming process.  Avetta’s prequalification solution provides fast and accurate collection and verification of supplier data. Findings are presented through a simple online interface, allowing you to mitigate risk and make better sourcing decisions.

Learn more about how Avetta can help with Supplier Prequalification and Verification

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