The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised its decades-old standards for the use of cranes and derricks in construction, mandating qualification of operators, increased on-site inspections, and other measures.
The rule, revising standards established in 1971, was issued in the wake of a spate of highly publicized fatal crane accidents, including a 2008 collapse in midtown Manhattan that killed six workers and a tourist and injured two dozen people.
The rule updates safety requirements, methods and practices for cranes and derricks, and incorporates technological advances to protect those who work on and around cranes and derricks, OSHA said.
“The significant number of fatalities associated with the use of cranes in construction led the Labor Department to undertake this rulemaking,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “After years of extensive research, consultation and negotiation with industry experts, this long-overdue rule will address the leading causes of fatalities related to cranes and derricks, including electrocution, boom collapse and overturning.”
The rule is expected to affect about 267,000 construction, crane rental and crane certification establishments employing about 4.8 million workers. Most of the provisions will take effect Nov. 8, 2010, but certain training requirements and other provisions have deadlines of up to four years.
“The rule addresses critically important provisions for crane operator certification and crane inspection, set-up and disassembly,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. “Compliance with the rule will prevent needless worker injuries and death, and provide protection for the public and property owners.”
The new standards are designed to prevent the leading causes of fatalities, including electrocution, crushed-by/struck-by hazards during assembly/disassembly, collapse and overturn. In all, OSHA expects that the new measures will prevent 22 fatalities and 175 injuries each year.
The new mandates include:
• Employer-paid certification or qualification of any currently uncertified or unqualified operators;
• Employer compliance with local and state operator licensing requirements that meet the minimum criteria specified in § 1926.1427;
• Use of a qualified rigger for rigging operations during assembly/disassembly;
• Pre-erection inspection of tower cranes;
• Use of synthetic slings in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions during assembly/disassembly;
• Assessment of ground conditions; and
• Procedures for working near power lines.
The rule also clarifies the scope of the requirements by providing both a functional description and a list of examples for the equipment covered.
The new rule caps a seven-year effort that began with the appointment of a 23-member Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee in 2003. The members, representing manufacturers and trade associations, met 11 times until reaching a consensus on the regulatory text in July 2004. The proposed rule was published Oct. 9, 2008, and the public was invited to submit comments until Jan. 22, 2009. Public hearings were held in March 2009, and the public comment period on those proceedings closed in June 2009. OSHA staff incorporated input from the public comments and testimony to develop the final regulatory text.
The complete rule is available at http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2010-17818_PI.pdf. The regulation text is available at http://www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/index.html.