SC&RA responds to new crane rule clarification

The SC&RA - the US crane, rigging and heavy transport association - has responded to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) notice on a proposed rule to provide long-term clarity regarding crane operator certification requirements and reinstate the employer duty to ensure that a crane operator is qualified to safely operate equipment.

Essentially the association is agreeing with, and welcoming, most of the points in the clarification rule, but objects to the requirement for third party operating testing/certification and a prescriptive list of how to monitor operators in training.

In a letter to OSHA, dated July 5th the SC&RA made the following comments in response to questions posed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Docket ID-OSHA-2007-0066, RIN 1218-AC86, Cranes and Derricks in Construction:

“SC&RA supports the requirement for employers to evaluate their operators and operators-in-training. However, SC&RA does not support a prescriptive list by which employers must evaluate their operators nor do we support the requirement for independent third party evaluations.”

“SC&RA supports the change of requiring crane operator certification ‘by type and capacity’ to certification ‘by type and/or type and capacity'.

“SC&RA supports the requirement that a trainer should be a ‘qualified person’ (as currently defined within the standard: Qualified person means a person who, by possession of a recognised degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, successfully demonstrated the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project). SC&RA does not support the requirement for additional qualifications such as number of seat hours, previous operation of specific equipment, etc.”

“SC&RA supports the decision to not provide specific criteria for the evaluation of crane operators due to the fact that ’one size fits all’ is infeasible for companies operating within the construction industry. To require each to evaluate their operators to a list of specific criteria is impractical and will not accomplish the goals and purposes of the evaluation.”

“SC&RA does not support the deletion of operator recertification as recertification establishes a baseline of ongoing assessment and supports the employer’s obligation for continuing education and training on important national industry standards and government regulations.”

“SC&RA does not support the addition of 'over the road driving' requirements as proposed. The driving of these vehicles is already regulated by federal and state transportation authorities, and therefore their inclusion within the OSHA standard is unnecessary.”

In the letter, SC&RA reiterated its commitment to be a strong advocate for operator certification and an employer’s obligation to train and qualify their employees on the equipment they are assigned for work. The Association however, noted its opposition to any additional evaluation criteria due to the lack of evidence showing current unsafe practices within the industry.

Vertikal Comment

This looks like an eminently sensible and logical response to the proposed clarification to the rule which has been a long time coming and is currently scheduled to come into force this November. See OSHA confirms crane operator certification postponement

The only thing that sticks out in the letter, is the association’s rejection of a need for third party testing/certification of operators.

The fact is that commercial reality is already making third party certification a ‘must have’ among better quality crane rental companies and the more safety conscious contractors. The absence of a legal requirement is only likely to make a difference to companies that routinely take risks and undercut the more professional players. Anecdotal evidence suggests that accident rates are higher among this type of company, and so one could argue that the requirement will have little to no impact on good companies - which perversely make up the majority of SC&RA’s membership - but is likely to have a significant impact on making the industry safer.


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