July 28,2010 – Extensive new requirements for the qualifications of crane operators and signalpersons were published today by Federal OSHA in the most wide-ranging revision of the rules governing the use of cranes in a generation.
Under the new rule, crane operators must be either certified by an accredited crane operator testing organization, such as the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), or qualified by an audited employer program. State programs that meet federal requirements, and programs run by the U.S. military, are also recognized in the new standard which retains most of the language contained in the Proposed Rule issued in 2008.
The widely-anticipated regulation, often referred to by the name of the negotiated rulemaking committee that developed it—C-DAC—but officially known as 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC, was developed over a 12-month period and submitted to OSHA in 2004. The passage of the document has taken numerous twists and turns as it made its way through federal government oversight in the six years since then.
Signalpersons must be qualified either by a third-party qualified evaluator, such as NCCCO, or an employer’s qualified evaluator.
The new rule, including the requirements for signalperson qualifications, takes effect on November 8, 2010. Employers are given an additional four years to comply with the crane operator certification provisions.
OSHA estimates that approximately 267,000 construction, crane rental and crane certification establishments employing about 4.8 million workers will be affected by the rule.
"The significant number of fatalities associated with the use of cranes in construction led the Labor Department to undertake this rulemaking," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "After years of extensive research, consultation and negotiation with industry experts, this long overdue rule will address the leading causes of fatalities related to cranes and derricks, including electrocution, boom collapse and overturning."
The previous rule, which dated back to 1971, was based on 40-year-old standards. Stakeholders from the construction industry recognized the need to update the safety requirements, methods and practices for cranes and derricks, and to incorporate technological advances in order to provide improved protection for those who work on and around cranes and derricks.
"The rule addresses critically important provisions for crane operator certification, and crane inspection, set-up and disassembly," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Compliance with the rule will prevent needless worker injuries and death, and provide protection for the public and property owners."
The new rule is designed to prevent the leading causes of fatalities, including electrocution, crushed-by/struck-by hazards during assembly/disassembly, collapse and overturn. It also sets requirements for ground conditions and crane operator assessment. In addition, the rule addresses tower crane hazards, addresses the use of synthetic slings for assembly/disassembly work, and clarifies the scope of the regulation by providing both a functional description and a list of examples for the equipment that is covered.
In 2003, the secretary of labor appointed 23 experienced Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee members representing manufacturers and trade associations, who met 11 times until a consensus on the regulatory text was reached in July 2004. The proposed rule was published Oct. 9, 2008, and the public was invited to submit comments until Jan. 22, 2009. Public hearings were held in March 2009, and the public comment period on those proceedings closed in June 2009. OSHA staff incorporated input from the public comments and testimony to develop the final regulatory text.
The published rule is available at http://www.osha.gov/FedReg_osha_pdf/FED20100809.pdf. The regulation text is available at http://www.osha.gov/doc/cranesreg.pdf.
You can also find an OSHA Fact Sheet, the OSHA PowerPoint presentation providing an overview of Subpart CC,and the Final Rule on the OSHA website.
For additional history on OSHA’s Crane Rule, see NCCCO’s OSHA Crane Rule Resource Center.