OSHA’s Crane Operator Certification Rule Delayed Until 2018

by Melanie Baravik
November 10, 2017

On August 9, 2010, OSHA published the first final rule concerning the certification of crane and derricks operators in the construction industry. Final rules are published after every revision and comment period, and this rule has been revised more than once, with final rules published in September 2014 and most recently, on November 9, 2017.

The September 2014 final rule delayed its effective date from November 2014 until November 10, 2017. Yesterday’s final rule enacted yet another delay until November 10, 2018. The most recent final rule says the delay will give OSHA time to address concerns that have risen about certification: whether or not certified operators will be classified by equipment type and capacity, and if certification is sufficient proof of an operator’s qualifications.

The operator certification rule was introduced in an effort to decrease the number of fatalities and injuries caused by cranes and derricks. Additionally, the previous rule had been issued in 1971 and didn’t account for new equipment technology. OSHA predicted in 2010 that the new rule will prevent 22 fatalities and 175 injuries annually.

While crane and derricks operator certification isn’t happening this year, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on what the rule’s enactment will bring and prepare for next year (or the next year, or the next…).

New Certification Standards

Crane and derricks operators will have four options for certification when the rule does take effect:

1. Certification from an accredited independent testing organization
2. Qualification by an independently-audited employer program
3. Qualification by the U.S. military
4. Compliance with state and/or local licensing requirements

OSHA expects most operators will become compliant through the first option. It’s the only certification that the agency calls portable, meaning all employers can accept it as proof of an operator’s qualifications, and it’s valid for five years. Certification through an employer program is also valid for five years, but it doesn’t transfer if the operator changes employers. Only federal employees can be qualified by the military, another nontransferable certification.

Currently, construction employers have a legal duty to ensure their crane and derricks operators are competent, moving operators toward certification before it becomes federal law. Crane and derricks operators may need to be certified according to the type and capacity of crane they are trained to operate, a provision that’s up for debate during this delayed compliance period.

All operators will be tested to ensure they meet minimum standards of literacy in a language they understand. In another written test, operators will have to show that they understand equipment controls, how it operates, how to calculate the equipment’s load capacity, and other technical knowledge. The certification rule can be found in its entirety in the Code of Federal Regulations §1926.1427.

Whether or not the rule is delayed beyond 2018, it’s always best to get compliant as soon as you can (just like with the impending ELD rule!). Make safety a priority and reduce the chances for an accident by ensuring your employees are properly trained and certified.

More questions about impending certification? Take a look at OSHA’s page dedicated to the rule, cranes and derricks FAQs and FAQs about the latest compliance extension.

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