Are you in the crane operation business? If so, you likely know that industry professionals haven’t exactly been on the same page regarding what certification means.
However, all of that is about to change — and fast.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been engaging in talks with the industry regarding what certification means and how to conduct it.
In light of this, the administration in late May 2018 published a new Proposed Rule. OSHA hopes the Proposed Rule will address the problems that have prevented the mandatory certification of crane operators.
Concerned about how OSHA’s crane certification rule will impact the industry? Here are five things you need to know before November 8, 2018, when things take effect.
Let’s get started!
Background on the Crane Certification Rule
OSHA’s Proposed Rule, published on May 21, makes it unnecessary for a crane operator to receive certification based on a crane’s capacity.
This decision has received support from most of the industry’s stakeholders. These stakeholders expressed their support since OSHA first published the rule back in 2010.
However, OSHA has also used the Proposed Rule to lay out plans for addressing other essential industry matters.
For instance, the Proposed Rule highlights what responsibility employers should have beyond operator certification. This includes the ongoing training and evaluation of their crane operators.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know about the Proposed Rule.
1. Employers Must Still Evaluate Their Employees
With OSHA’s Proposed Rule, employers’ responsibility for evaluating their operators would be permanently maintained.
This issue has sparked a great deal of dispute between OSHA and the industry. Over the years, both sides have been at odds regarding crane certification’s role.
According to OSHA, stakeholders have emphasized that the certification of crane operators is advantageous.
After all, it establishes a minimum threshold for a crane operator’s familiarity with and knowledge of crane operation.
Employers, in particular, have reiterated the importance of involving companies in making sure that crane operators are competent in their craft.
Because, according to OSHA, a crane operation standardized test couldn’t replicate every condition that an operator may face at a job site.
Still, questions linger regarding how frequent, and detailed employer evaluations should be.
The Proposed Rule’s requirements are not as complicated as those that OSHA previously drafted.
Still, OSHA will no doubt receive plenty of feedback on them from employers that will need to review.
2. Certifying By Crane Capacity Is No Longer Necessary
Many professionals in the crane operation field have been saying for months, maybe years, that requiring crane capacity-based certification should be removed. And they may finally get their wish.
OSHA in its Proposed Rule has proposed getting rid of this requirement for one main reason: It is unnecessary.
OSHA also stated that the requirement would be a financial burden on today’s employers. And employers wouldn’t experience safety gains as a result of it.
At the moment, the requirement remains an option. Still, this could also go.
In its Proposed Rule, OSHA welcomed comments on whether it should remove the words “or type and capacity” in its final rule as well.
According to the agency, these words may cause confusion about whether capacity-based certification is mandatory at the state level.
3. Employers Have to Pay
OSHA’s Proposed Rule also emphasizes that employers have to offer certification for free to their workers.
According to OSHA, this mirrors other rules requiring employers to offer medical exams and personal protective equipment for free to their staff.
4. Crane Certification Requirements Still Cover Smaller Cranes
Many industry players didn’t doubt this would happen. However, that did not stop a handful of industry organization from trying to get smaller cranes and other cranes excluded from OSHA’s certification requirement.
By “smaller cranes,” we’re referring to cranes with capacities of 5,000 to 35,000 pounds. By “other cranes,” we’re referring to those utilized only intermittently or for performing repetitive lifts.
OSHA determined that its certification requirements should still cover these cranes since they present the same types of hazards you have with larger cranes.
Also, according to OSHA, crane-related injuries and fatalities can happen even when you’re performing duty-cycle work with such cranes.
Just as OSHA’s certification requirements still cover these cranes, it also still excludes other types of equipment.
This other equipment includes side-boom cranes. It also includes derrick apparatuses and equipment whose maximum lift capacity — as rated by the manufacturer — is no more than 2,000 pounds.
5. Watch out for November
As we mentioned earlier, the current rule is slated to take effect this November. That’s because last November, OSHA announced that it would extend its certification requirement compliance date to this November 10.
Why? Because it would give the agency enough time to look into its operator certification record and address a couple of issues.
One of these issues involved the certification of crane operators by capacity.
The other issue involved determining whether certification and qualification should be deemed equivalent.
However, the question now is, can the nation’s safety agency get the Proposed Rule turned into an OSHA Final Rule before November?
OSHA honestly doesn’t think this will happen. This is why the agency has proposed asking for an extra six months to ensure that everything is in line. This means we would have until April of 2019 to get everything squared away.
OSHA might also issue an order to its compliance officers that would prevent the existing rule’s language from being enforced. Only time will tell what will happen with this Proposed Rule.
How We Can Help
We offer top-of-the-line crane operator training as well as accident investigation services. We stand out in the industry for our stellar customer service and years of expertise.
Get in touch with us today to find out more about how OSHA’s proposed crane certification rule may affect you in the months and years ahead.