OSHA’s proposal to postpone the compliance date for crane operator certification by three years was finally made official on Feb. 7, 2014, when it was published in the Federal Register. The industry has until March 12, 2014 to comment on the rulemaking. Until a decision is reached, the current compliance date remains in effect for Nov. 10, 2014.
Crane Institute Certification (CIC) encourages industry stakeholders to review the proposed rule and to submit comments. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be found here.
According to OSHA, “the primary rationale for proposing the extension is to provide additional time for OSHA to consider the potential costs and benefits of possible adjustments to the operator certification requirements in future rulemaking.”
If an extension takes place, OSHA will likely re-open the rule to address putting greater responsibility on employers to verify an operator’s qualifications for specific equipment and job site scenarios. It may also make changes to the requirement for operator’s to be tested by type and capacity.
“Although the proposal addresses the cost savings to employers that have not complied, it does not address those who have complied with the November 2014 deadline,” said James Frisby, Crane Operator and Rigger Trainer for Great Southwestern Construction, Castle Rock, Colo. “Our company has spent thousands of dollars to make sure our operators were properly certified by the November 2014 date. It is almost as if we are being penalized for compliance.”
CIC stands by its position that a delay of the crane operator certification requirement is not necessary. At this time, affordable accredited certification by type and capacity is available from two accredited certification providers, CIC being one. Meanwhile, the 22 annual fatalities the initial rule was intended to prevent will continue for the next three years.
“We find this action most disturbing for several reasons. First and foremost is that certification of operators is the most vital step toward a safer and more secure workplace, thereby reducing the odds of death and injury on site than any other action,” said Gail Lavender, Administrator for National Crane Inspection, Cincinnati, Ohio. “Trained, qualified, certified operators will also result in lowering insurance costs, which will in turn lower construction costs creating a win, win situation.”
OSHA’s proposal outlines predicted cost savings for employers who have not previously certified their operators if a three-year extension is enacted. CIC questions some of these calculations. “The logic that certification costs will decline in three years is not based on reality. Do we expect labor rates to decrease? The cost of cranes to drop? Even if testing costs stay exactly the same, the larger cost factors are not likely to remain static. Based on an independent cost analysis, the longer certification is delayed, the higher the cost to employers,” said Debbie Dickinson, Executive Director of CIC.
CIC encourages employers to move forward with getting operators certified. General contractors aren’t waiting. They recognize the merits of certification and often make it mandatory as part of the bidding process. In addition, many states legislate crane operator certification. It’s good for business in terms of improving productivity, being competitive in the market, and increasing safety.