OSHA Releases Guidance for Crane Rule, Clarifying Training, Inspection Provisions

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Employers must pay for crane operators to be certified by a third party, inspect crane towers before they are moved and erected at a site, and follow new rules when cranes and derricks are used around power lines, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in guidance released March 8.

The OSHA guidance is intended to help small businesses comply with the agency's August 2010 cranes and derricks regulation (40 OSHR 631, 7/29/10).

According to the guidance document, operators of leased cranes are still responsible for verifying that the cranes comply with the standards, even if the owner of the equipment states that the standards have been met.

Contractors on work sites where cranes are being used also are obligated to protect workers under the rule, even if none of their work involves cranes, because their workers may still be exposed to crane hazards, such as crane collapses or electrical contact with power lines, the document said.

Also included in the guidance are:

• a list of equipment that is covered by or excluded from the rule;

• procedures for assembling and disassembling cranes;

• procedures for working around power lines;

• exceptions to the rule's provisions on mandatory minimum clearance from power lines; and

• types of required equipment inspections and the frequency with which they must be performed.

The guidance states that it is “designed to address the most common compliance issues that employers will face and to provide sufficient detail to serve as a useful compliance guide,” but not to describe all of the standard's provisions or change the compliance responsibilities set forth in the rule.

'A Good Start,' Builders Association Says.

Chris Williams, director of safety at Associated Builders and Contractors, told BNA March 9 that the document is a “good start,” and that “any guidance is nice to have as a resource.”

“We wish it had come out before the Nov. 8 implementation [of the crane rule], but better late than never,” Williams said.

He also said, however, that the document is “a little bureaucratic in the way it's set up. It's [intended] for a small entity, but the real issue is that if you print it out, it's probably 40 to 50 pages. So it's difficult to maneuver.”

Eric Harbin, director of OSHA's Office of Construction Services, said Dec. 2 that the release of the guidance document was the highest priority of the OSHA Directorate of Construction, which oversees Harbin's office as well as the Office of Construction Standards and Guidance (40 OSHR 1010, 12/9/10).

“Over the past four decades, we've continued to see a significant number of worker injuries and deaths from electrocution, crushed-by and struck-by hazards while performing cranes and derricks operations,” David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said in a March 8 statement. “This guide will help employers understand what they must do to protect their workers from these dangerous, sometimes fatal incidents.”

By Stephen Lee

OSHA's Small Entity Compliance Guide for Cranes and Derricks in Construction is available at http://www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/small_entity.html.

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