OSHA Postpones Crane Operator Certification Requirements

Not long ago, three construction workers in Raleigh were injured while working on a project at North Carolina State University when they were struck by a steel beam dropped from a crane. crane.jpg

The incident is still under investigation, but word of the accident emerged around the same time that officials with the Occupational Health & Safety Association announced they would extend the deadline for crane operator training requirements – by three full years.

The new rules, which were supposed to go into effect this November, have been pushed back until November 2017. Once they do go into effect, anyone who operates a crane will have to be either certified by an approved organization or qualified by an audited employer program.

Asheville construction accident attorneys note it appears OSHA bowed to significant industry pressure, from construction companies and business lobbyists who insisted that the cost to implement these measures any sooner would have undue negative economic impact on the industry. Of course, this overlooks the fact that the final rule was passed in 2010, and companies have now had four years to comply. They knew what to expect, and yet many didn’t take the very basic steps of ensuring that those who operate these heavy and very dangerous pieces of equipment received thorough training.

The result has been that we have continued to see too many work injuries resulting from crane accidents or unsafe operation of heavy equipment.

A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are an average of 78 deaths every year that are crane-related. Crane-related accidents in many cases injure or kill more than one person at a time. The majority involve mobile, truck or rail-mounted cranes, while most of the rest involve overhead cranes.

Construction workers are deemed most at-risk for crane-related fatalities and injuries, followed by electricians, welders, solderers and brazers. Most were employed by private firms.

In 42 percent of annual crane-related fatalities, the BLS reports the injuries were caused by falling objects. Twenty percent were caused by falls and another 11 percent involved being caught in or compressed by crane equipment.

Even if a crane operator isn’t directly responsible for the factors that result in an accident, an operator who is properly trained can often quickly react to potentially dangerous situations and avert the risk.

Some employers have already begun to initiate the OSHA-mandated training. It should be noted that such measures are in a company’s best interest in terms of mitigating third-party liability should there be an on-site crane accident.

However, companies won’t be fined or face other sanctions for failure to comply for more than three years.

Once the deadline arrives (assuming it isn’t pushed back once more), crane operators will be required to become certified or qualified in one of the following four ways:

  • Submit to an accrediting testing organization, which will issue a certification that will be valid for up to five years.
  • Submit to an audited employer program. This too would be valid for five years, but would not be transferable to other employers.
  • Obtain a U.S. military license. This, again, is not portable to other employers and would have to adhere to whatever other state and local requirements existed.
  • Obtain a state and/or local license. Again, it’s valid for up to five years, but only in the jurisdiction in which it was issued.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
OSHA issues proposed rule to extend compliance date for crane operator certification requirements, Feb. 7, 2014, Occupational Safety & Health Administration

More Blog Entries:Temp Workers, Workers’ Compensation & Staffing Agencies, March 16, 2014, Asheville Work Injury Lawyer Blog

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