National Commission for the
Certification of Crane Operators
Committed to Quality, Integrity, and Fairness in Testing since 1995


OSHA Reveals Top Crane Violations

January 2021—Scott Ketcham, Director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, presented the top ten 2020 crane violations cited by OSHA through mid-October at the 5th Annual Industry Forum sponsored by the NCCCO Foundation on October 29, 2020. Find out how NCCCO and CCO certification programs can help employers ensure personnel working in and around their equipment have documented qualification through fair, unbiased, defensible certification, thereby avoiding costly OSHA fines.

OSHA Crane Violations 1-10 - 900x

  1. 1926.1412 – Inspections: Of the 354 citations issued by OSHA as of the reporting date, 56 percent were considered serious. Employers can ensure their inspections are being conducted completely and by knowledgeable, competent individuals by ensuring the inspector documented their knowledge through certification. CCO-certified crane inspectors have documented their ability to perform post-assembly, post-repair, and annual/comprehensive inspections, and they can properly document their findings as OSHA requires. They can also determine whether a registered professional engineer (RPE) familiar with the type of equipment involved is needed to develop criteria for the equipment configuration as well as whether there is a reasonable probability of damage or excessive wear. Find CCO-certified crane inspectors at
  2. 1926.1428 – Signal person qualifications: OSHA requires that signal persons demonstrate qualification through an oral or written exam and a thorough practical exam, either by an accredited third-party qualified evaluator, such as NCCCO, or the employer’s qualified evaluator. OSHA issued 167 citations, 66 percent of which were serious, to employers who were not in compliance. Signal persons must know and understand basic hand signals; be competent in the application of the type of signals used (e.g., hand, radio); have a basic understanding of the crane’s operation and limitations; and understand when it is appropriate to use hand, radio, or special signals. NCCCO Signalperson certification exams content areas align with OSHA’s requirements. Certification is the best way to document qualification as it has already gone through the rigorous scrutiny of accreditation to document that it is fair, valid, and reliable and legally defensible.
  3. 1926.1408 – Power line safety: Power line safety continues to be a vital area of concern and danger. OSHA cited 150 violations through mid-October, 85 percent of these were serious. CCO-certified operators are required to know how to determine if any part of the equipment, load line, or load (including rigging and lifting accessories), while operating up to the equipment's maximum working radius in the work zone, could get closer than the minimum approach distance of the power line permitted, and they must know how to take the appropriate precautions. NCCCO operator certification exams address the power line safety requirements defined by OSHA. Through training and certification, to ensure training was effective, certified operators should be able to avoid these common risks.
  4. 1926.1425 – Keeping clear of the load: While this seems like one of the most obvious things to avoid, of the 142 violations identified during the reporting period, 85 percent were serious. Only employees essential to the operation are permitted in the fall zone (but not directly under the load). CCO-certified lift directors, operators, riggers, and signal persons must know when people may or may not be in the fall zone. NCCCO certifications cover OSHA requirements ensuring that your personnel can avoid actions that could results in such a citation.
  5. 1926.1417 – Operation: OSHA identified 123 violations that NCCCO operator certification was specifically developed to address. Of those, 66 percent were considered serious. Certification ensures that operators have the knowledge to perform their work as safely as possible, generally as well as how specified in this standard. This includes not engaging in any practice or activity that diverts his/her attention while actually engaged in operating the equipment, such as the use of cellular phones (other than when used for signal communications). It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the procedures applicable to the operation of the equipment, including rated capacities (load charts), recommended operating speeds, special hazard warnings, instructions, and operator’s manual, are readily available in the cab at all times for use by the operator.
  6. 1926.1404 – Assembly/Disassembly: Assembly/disassembly must be directed by a person who meets the criteria for both a competent person and a qualified person, or by a competent person who is assisted by one or more qualified persons. OSHA determined 82 percent of the 85 violations of this section of the rule were serious. This continues to be an area of responsibility that needs to be clearly assigned on the jobsite.
  7. 1926.1427 – Operator Qualification & Certification: OSHA requires that employers ensure that each operator is trained, certified/ licensed, and evaluated in accordance with this section before operating any equipment covered under subpart CC. In 84 instances, OSHA determined violations of this section of the rule, 73 percent of these were serious violations. This category also included the highest number of Willful Violations. For a certification to satisfy the requirements of this section, the crane operator testing organization providing the certification must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. The certified crane operator testing organization must meet the nationally recognized accrediting agency's determination that industry-recognized criteria for written testing materials, practical examinations, test administration, grading, facilities/equipment, and personnel have been met. NCCCO certifications meet these criteria. Director Ketcham indicated that the number of these violations will likely increase after OSHA releases its forthcoming compliance directive.
  8. 1926.1431 – Hoisting personnel: OSHA identified 86 percent of the 73 violations related to hoisting personnel as serious. Hoisting personnel is a content section within the domains of the CCO certified operator exams. NCCCO certified operators know that the use of equipment to hoist employees is prohibited except where the employer demonstrates that the erection, use, and dismantling of conventional means of reaching the work area, such as a personnel hoist, ladder, stairway, aerial lift, elevating work platform, or scaffold, would be more hazardous, or is not possible because of the project’s structural design or worksite conditions. When hoisting personnel is permitted, CCO-certified operators know how to employ heightened safety margins.
  9. 1926.1413 – Wire rope-inspection: OSHA requires a competent individual to inspect wire rope before or during a shift and found violations in 71 instances, 63 percent of those being serious. CCO-certified operators are tested on types and designations of wire rope and their application, replacement criteria and inspection procedures, and maintenance and lubrication, so they know how to categorize any deficiencies found during their shift inspections and take the appropriate action(s) to notify the controlling entity before commencing work. CCO-certified crane inspectors can also help avoid these citations as they are able to perform annual/comprehensive inspections, which include thorough inspection of all wire ropes.
  10. 1926.1430 – Training: The Rule outlines 15 paragraphs on training requirements for those working in and around the cranes. OSHA found 86 percent of the 58 violations related to these requirements to be serious. Requirements include training operators on safe operation of the equipment the operator will be using, power line safety, signaling, emergency procedures and more. CCO certification provides an impartial, third-party confirmation that training has been effective, and the person being trained understands and can apply what was taught and is defensible.