The American Subcontractors Association has suggested some key changes to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed overhaul of cranes and derricks safety standards—the first such overhaul in four decades.
In comments filed Jan. 22, 2009, ASA applauded OSHA for developing the rule through a negotiated rulemaking process that tapped the “expertise and experience of the Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (C-DAC).” C-DAC is a committee of safety experts, crane users, project owners and insurers that has worked with OSHA for more than four years in drafting the regulatory text.
However, ASA also suggested proposal revisions that it said would “result in safer job sites and not overly burden employers with confusing regulations.”
OSHA’s proposed changes to 29 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1926, Subpart N, include:
• Enhanced assembly and disassembly procedures, including conferences between relevant parties to assess potential dangers, ground conditions and crew instructions.
• Power line safety requirements, such as acceptable ranges in which cranes may be operated and procedures for dealing with close power lines.
• Tasks, documentation and personnel requirements for daily, monthly and annual inspections.
• Certification for crane operators, whether by an accredited third-party testing organization, audited employer-run program, military entity, or state or local government.
• Signalperson training and certification.
In fall 2008, ASA surveyed members (crane users and non-crane users alike) about crane use, crane safety practices, and other information. A working group of ASA members used the survey results to develop recommended changes to the rule. In its comments, ASA said that the rule should:
• Include the requirement of crane operator certification to help decrease risk in construction, and options such as employer-run qualification programs and third-party administration of crane operator tests, so that firms have better access to and cheaper options for certification programs.
• Clarify the definition of the term “controlling entity” to more accurately assign liability for worksite conditions, particularly for crane assembly procedures.
• Reconsider what equipment and tasks fall under Subpart N, specifically excluding forklifts modified to operate as cranes, and omitting truck cranes that only deliver materials to construction job sites.
• Require testing organizations to facilitate the certification of operators who do not speak English or read well through non-English test and testing aids.
• Require the release of compliance guidelines for public comment to ensure that enforcement officers, employees and employers are working from the same understanding of what it takes to comply with the final rule.
The association’s full comments are available under the advocacy section of www.asaonline.com.