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2009

OSHA Proposed Rule: Make Your Voice Heard!

January 2009 - The most significant revision to OSHA’s rules governing cranes and derricks is currently out for public comment.  The Proposed Rule, 29 CFR Part 1926, Cranes and Derricks in Construction, will significantly change the way cranes are used on construction sites in this country for years to come.  One of the most important proposals in the proposed rule affects the qualifications of personnel that work with, in or around cranes, notably, crane operators and signalpersons. 

Under the proposed rule, crane operators would either have to be certified by a nationally accredited organization or qualified through an employer’s program that has been audited by a nationally accredited organization.

Even though the Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee (C-DAC) reached consensus on this provision and recommended OSHA adopt it.  And despite the fact that OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) unanimously approved C-DAC’s recommendations, this provision is under threat from a small (but vocal) segment of the construction industry that seeks to persuade OSHA to weaken this provision. 

The bottom line is: If you believe that crane operators should be independently certified through an accredited organization such as NCCCO, it is imperative that you make your position known to Federal OSHA.  This is the first time in a generation that OSHA has reviewed its crane requirements; this is truly your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the crane rulemaking process at this level.

Comments must be received by the OSHA Docket Office at www.regulations.gov by next Thursday, January 22, 2009.  Alternatively, you may fax your comments to OSHA at 202/693-1648.  Comments should be addressed to:

OSHA Docket Office
Docket ID—OSHA—2007—0066
Technical Data Center, Room N-2625
OSHA/ U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210

In your comments you should indicate which provision of the Proposed Rule you are supporting, your position on the issue, and the basis for your support.  NCCCO has developed a draft letter template for you to place on your company letterhead and to adapt as appropriate.  Furthermore, if you would like to see the proposed rule strengthened, by all means mention that.  For example, signalpersons would not have to be certified (just “evaluated”) under the new proposals, and qualifications for riggers are barely mentioned in the proposed rule.

In addition, NCCCO has also prepared a Position Paper on 12 questions that OSHA has posed in the Preamble to the Proposed Rule pertaining to crane operator and signalperson qualifications.  You may attach this to your letter and indicate support for it in your comments if you wish.

For background on key points regarding the Proposed Rule you may also wish to refer to the NCCCO document 20 Facts About Operator Certification and the Proposed Federal Rule.

Note that, if you have already responded to OSHA’s request for comments but have not commented specifically on the operator qualification provision, it is extremely important that you submit a follow-up comment supporting the particular requirements of proposed paragraph 1926.1427.

It’s human nature for most of us only to act in response to something we don’t want.  Which is why it is so critical that your voice in support of this issue—and, in fact in support of the consensus of the Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee (C-DAC) that developed the base document for the Proposed Rule—be heard at this time.  You’ll be making a major contribution to crane safety in this country, and helping to preserve safer lifting conditions for all those who work with, in and around cranes for generations to come.

Please contact NCCCO's Executive Director, Graham Brent with any questions or comments.