Crane Operator Requirements: How to Make Sure You’re Compliant

A crane operator lifts and transports heavy materials using various types of crane equipment (i.e. mobile, truck-mounted, rough terrain, telescopic, loader, tower, etc.). These lifts and the operation of the powerful machines doing the lifting is highly complex and involves extreme levels of risk. To help ensure a certain level of safety on jobsites that feature cranes, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its Cranes and Derricks in Construction final rule for crane operators accreditation in 2010

However, the deadline for full compliance has been subsequently reviewed and pushed back since the original one was scheduled for November 2014.  The latest deadline was announced as November of 2018.

Why the deadline extension(s)?

Why the extension(s)? There have been two unresolved issues that have lead to this. The first was the standard required certification for both the type of crane as well as its capacity. 2 out of 4 crane operator accredit testing services were issuing certification for only “type” of crane rather than both “type and capacity” of the crane. This therefore needed further deliberation to determine whether “type” and “capacity” should both be applied as a single or different certification.

The second issue which was raised by stakeholders was that “certification” alone does not translate to an operator being competent or sufficiently experienced to be able to safely control a machine. An operator needs to demonstrate on-the-job skills and experience in handling cranes.

Why the New Rule?

OSHA estimates that the requirements in its final rule will prevent 175 injuries and 22 fatalities, as well as saving seven million dollars in property damage a year. It’s safe to say that anyone associated with crane operations should take the deadline seriously and initiate compliance procedures well ahead of time.This will ensure you’re compliant today and therefore relieve you of the pressure of having to train and rush implementation. 

With regard to this, there are a number of things you will have to take note of to be on the safe side. They are:

Types of certification

The new crane operator regulations set by OSHA state that employers must meet the certification or qualification costs of their currently unqualified or un-accredited operators. There are only four ways in which you can be accredited as a crane operator and be recognized by OSHA. After passing written and oral tests, you will be deemed certified to operate a crane.

The four certifications are:

1. By an accredited testing organization

This certification is valid across the US for five years. The accredited testing organization must be an independent institution itself accredited by a nationally recognized organization/institution. 

2. By an independently audited employer program

Your employer can also issue you with a crane operator certificate also valid for five years but not portable. That is, it can only be used on the certifying employer premises/site. Employer testing must be conducted in accordance with nationally recognized auditing standards.

3. By the US military

The US military can also offer its service personnel crane operator certification in line with its own testing rules and regulations. However, such a certificate is not portable just like an employer certificate and is subject to state or local training requirements. 

4. By state/local license

The length of validation for this license/certificate is determined by the issuing party but cannot exceed five years. It’s only valid in the area of jurisdiction in which it is issued. State/local certification is issued in line with rules and regulations as laid down by the state and as such may vary from one state to the other.

There are four other items you need to note which are a highlight of the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Rule:

1. Operator training and certification

Your crane operators must be trained and certified in accordance with both state/local and national standards. As an employer, you are required to pay for this training and any other requirement. It’s best to plan ahead for this and organize for group training rather than individual training which may end up being costly.

2.Use of qualified riggers

You are required to use approved riggers for rigging operations whether during assembly or disassembly. These riggers must also be used as per the manufacturer’s instructions and you will need to train your people on how to use them accordingly. Making purchases and purchase decisions in advance helps you cut costs on new riggers as well as helps you pick the best among a number of them.

3. Pre-inspection of both site and equipment

Prior to erection, you as an employer are required to inspect the site where the crane will be erected as well as inspection of the crane towers. Develop your own inspections procedures and teach them to your supervisors. This will go a long way in helping your team become compliant.

4. Electrocution procedures

OSHA recognizes that electrocution is among the leading causes of crane related fatalities and therefore has included a number of new requirements and clarifications regarding the use of cranes near power lines. Including these changes in your safety and operational plans as well as training your employees in them will definitely take time. For example you can get maps of all power lines in an area, trainspotters, and even incorporate the latest threat detection technology.

Compliance with OSHA’s final rules will most likely require a significant investment of time and money. But when compared to the benefits, it’s worth it. These requirements will reduce fatalities, but not completely eradicate fatalities and accidents. That’s why you’ll still need insurance. Having insurance takes the burden of litigation issues off your shoulders and also ensures that your operations are not halted or slowed down if an accident occurs.

Allied insurance brokers are solutions driven brokers licensed nationwide. They can easily tailor solutions for all your insurance needs. They’ve earned awards like the Assurex/PAR excellence Award for insurance customer service. They have won this award a record 23 times in a row.

Our team will get you a specialized coverage analysis for your business-specific exposures thereby ensuring you spend less on insurance while becoming more efficient and competitive. Visit Allied Insurance Brokers today for insurance solutions for your business.

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