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OSHA Delays Crane Rule Once Again

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has extended the certification deadline for crane operators in its Final Rule, released late last week.

The deadline for crane operators to be certified is now Nov. 10, 2018, with the rule also including extending employer duty to ensure that crane operators are competent to operate a crane safely for the same amount of time, noted OSHA.

The rule will take effect immediately.


OSHA has delayed new crane operator guidelines twice since 2014.

The original rule, which was issued in 2010, stated that certification was the only thing needed to operate a crane. Stakeholders, however, expressed concern that certification did not equal a safe level of competence. OSHA then responded with a final rule that postponed the deadline for operator certification, in addition to permitting the agency to determine operatory qualifications.

Primary Concerns

While many industry insiders support OSHA’s mandate, there is still some concern over what testing would be needed for certification and if OSHA must intervene to determine if a crane operator is qualified. One point of resistance is precisely what the tests would cover.

Thue, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has extended the certification deadline for crane operators in its Final Rule, released late last week.

Under 29 C.F.R. 1926 Subpart CC, the current rule, the agency expects that operators be certified in accordance with the type of crane and the machine’s lifting capacity. According to Bloomberg BNA, many in the industry want the capacity mandate to be done away with. An operator who was certified to lift five tons could not lift any more, and OSHA-mandated testing could potentially tie up machines from doing work.

In December 2016, OSHA announced that it was almost ready to release a proposed rule that would further explain its position. However, any such announcement was then stalled as OSHA continued without politically appointed leadership under the Trump administration.

Addressing Concerns

According to OSHA, the new rule seeks to address these concerns with a proposal to remove the capacity component of certification. The agency also made note that it was “not prepared to make a determination whether certification alone is insufficient” in determining if an operator is qualified.

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators has offered its reluctant support of the delay, given that the rule changes were important to the effectiveness of the certification requirement.

“Since the positive impact of professionally developed, third-party, accredited crane operator certification on the incidence of deaths and injuries caused by crane accidents has been amply demonstrated during the more than 20 years that NCCCO has been providing it (see, for example, Cal-OSHA Study of Crane Accidents, 2008) every delay means that this nation’s workers continue to be exposed to risks that would otherwise have been mitigated,” NCCCO said in a statement to OSHA in September.


Tagged categories: Building operations; Cranes; Good Technical Practice; North America; OSHA

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (11/16/2017, 8:22 AM)

Hm. Balancing "Cranes may be idle a bit more often" against "workers more likely to die from unqualified operators"

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