New US crane rules will save 22 lives
The US Crane & Derricks in Construction Final Rule standards have been released and will be published in the Federal Register on August 9th 90 days later an up to four year transition period begins before all sections effectively become law.
The new standards replace 1926.550 that came into force in 1971 and referenced a wide variety of disparate design standards. 1926.550 was only amended twice in its 40 years. In 1988 the conditions under which employees on personnel platforms may be hoisted by cranes and in 1993 when 1926.550(a)(19) was added to require that all employees be kept clear of lifted and suspended loads.
The US Department of Labor says that the new rule will affect around 257,000 busness establishments and 4.8 million workers. The new Rule is intended to reduce crane fatalities on construction sites in the USA which are estimated at around 100 a year.
The Department estimates that the new standards will save 22 lives and yield a saving for the economy of $55 million a year after allowing for the costs of implementation.
Key changes include:
-Operator certification and training
All (construction related )employees working with cranes, including riggers, signalmen oilers etc… will need to have had proper training and be qualified or declared competent for the job they carry out, while crane operators will also need to be independently certified for work on the specific crane type.
- New detailed standards for overhead power lines
The standard includes a large section on working near or under or driving under overhead power lines with strict details of safe distances and work practices that must be followed.
- Tower crane inspections
Tower crane components must now be fully inspected prior the crane being erected.
- Ground conditions and outriggers
The standard goes into considerable detail on ground conditions and outrigger or stabiliser set up and the need to understand the ground conditions.
The new rules place greater responsibilities on general contractors in many areas, for example they will now be obliged to inform anyone working with a crane on site of the presence of any underground voids or poor ground conditions.
The Final Rule text is now in our library section Click here to read or download
A quick look though the final document suggests that this is now a very comprehensive and well polished standard. It is highly detailed in most areas to the point where it almost borders on being prescriptive.
Many of the new items introduced appear obvious and will surprise those used to European crane rules that they were not in the former 1926-550 standard. It must be remembered though that these are federal standards/ rules and that many local or state rules are already in force that cover many of the items included.
Going forward this will become the minimum standard for the country as a whole and any state or local rules that are stronger will still apply.
All in all it looks good and will surely be a major aid to crane safety, there is still much to do though, including the bringing on line of more training and testing places to cope with the vast number of operators that will need to be certified over the next four years.