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2008

California Crane Fatalities Drop After Certification Introduced

October 2008—Crane-related fatalities and injuries in California have declined sharply after more than four years of training and testing that produced more than 10,000 certified crane operators in the state, reports Cal-OSHA Reporter, following a study published by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). 

Cal-OSHA reviewed the records of crane operation citations and accident descriptions for the periods of 3 years before and after the regulation requiring Mobile and Tower Crane Operators to be certified on June 1, 2005. The U.S. Department of Labor IMIS reports contained injury incidents involving cranes, hoisting, rigging and high-voltage line contacts. The reports were sorted to remove incidents involving cranes that would not require certified operators and hoisting or high-voltage line contacts not related to crane operations.

Fatalities dropped to just two between June 1, 2005, and May 31 of this year from 10 between June 1, 2002, and May 31, 2005, which was just before the crane operator certification requirements (General Industry Safety Orders §5006.1) took effect. DOSH Principal Engineer Larry McCune, and Graham Brent, executive director of the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), briefed the Cal/OSH Standards Board in August on the latest crane statistics. Injury incidents in the relative periods went from 30 to 13.

June 1, 2002, to May 31, 2005

  Fatal Accidents Injury Cases
  High-Voltage line contacts 5 7
  Struck by loads 4 18
  Mobile Cranes overturned 1 5
  TOTAL CASES  
10 30

June 1, 2005, to May 31, 2008

  Fatal Accidents Injury Cases
  High-Voltage line contacts 1 4
  Struck by loads 0 3
  Mobile Cranes overturned 1 6
  TOTAL CASES  
2 13

"You can see there's a serious reduction" in incidents after the certification standard took effect, McCune told the Board, Cal-OSHA Reporter reported. Even though statistics may not tell the whole story, he said, "this is certainly a positive trend."

“It was always the belief of the industry experts that worked tirelessly through the late 1980s and early 1990s to develop what eventually became the nonprofit organization known as the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators that one day this industry would reap the benefits of professionally developed certification,” observed Brent.

“This remarkable decline in crane-related deaths and injuries, and the lives and hardship that have been spared as a result of the implementation of CCO crane operator certification in California, is a tribute to the vision and selfless determination displayed by those volunteers more than a decade ago who are now witnessing their beliefs validated and their dreams realized.”