Back in 2010, OSHA made a huge impact on health and safety in the construction industry by overhauling the crane & derrick standard. The goal of this new standard, as with all other OSHA standards, is to reduce workplace accidents and fatalities. As one prominent safety professional explained in April 2011’s Construction Equipment that the new crane standard is essentially an “extensive overhaul of previous regulations, they are also, in many ways, common sense solutions to existing problems.” Now here we are, 7 years later, and the regulation in its entirety is still not fully enforceable.
On Tuesday, June 20, OSHA presented a proposal to extend the enforcement date of its crane operator certification requirement in the Cranes and Derricks In Construction standard until November 10, 2018. At the same meeting, OSHA also proposed extending the existing employer duty to ensure carne operators are trained and competent to safely operate equipment to November 10, 2018 (Construction Equipment, 2017). This request makes it the third since the standard containing the certification requirement was implemented by OSHA in 2010. At that time, a three year extension was granted, after which another three year extension brought the deadline to November 2017.
This request is not without its criticism. James Headley of the Crane Institute of America Certification said in comments, "We have a perfectly good operator certification requirement in place and have had since 2010. The bottom line is these extensions have resulted in more accidents resulting in many cases injuries, and even deaths, because certification causes operators to receive training and trained operators have fewer accidents. This doesn't include the confusion caused to the industry, companies and employees." (Construction Equipment, 2017). Jose Lopez of the Florida Crane Inspections, LLC wrote strongly that he does not agree OSHA should be given another years extension, citing that in his opinion "individuals and companies who have not entered into certification by now (seven years) are the type of persons that will not get certified even if they are given twenty years, because that is the way they are, unsafe and operate by the seat of their pants." (Construction Equipment, 2017).
Not all the feedback has been negative. Graham Brent, CEO of the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators offered support of OSHA's extension request 'reluctantly' on the condition that the Final Rule would "clarify the role of certification in employers’ efforts to ensure their employees are qualified, and remove the requirement that crane operators be certified by capacity as well as by type of crane." (Construction Equipment, 2017). One thing that all involved seem to agree on is that this rule eventually be enforced. Until then, the best we can do as contractors to continue to use best practices as it relates to crane operations, including putting operators through a certification process. We don’t need an OSHA rule to tell us that having a trained and certified operator is a good idea.