OSHA Issues New Crane Rule


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration  announced that it is issuing a new rule addressing the use of cranes and derricks in construction, which will replace a decades-old standard. Approximately 267,000 construction, crane rental and crane certification establishments employing about 4.8 million workers will be affected by the rule published July 28, 2010.

The previous rule, which dated back to 1971, was based on 40-year-old standards. Stakeholders from the construction industry recognized the need to update the safety requirements, methods and practices for cranes and derricks, and to incorporate technological advances in order to provide improved protection for those who work on and around cranes and derricks.

The new rule is designed to prevent the leading causes of fatalities, including electrocution, crushed-by/struck-by hazards during assembly/disassembly, collapse and overturn. It also sets requirements for ground conditions and crane operator assessment. In addition, the rule addresses tower crane hazards, addresses the use of synthetic slings for assembly/disassembly work, and clarifies the scope of the regulation by providing both a functional description and a list of examples for the equipment that is covered.

In 2003, the secretary of labor appointed 23 experienced Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee members representing manufacturers and trade associations, who met 11 times until a consensus on the regulatory text was reached in July 2004. The proposed rule was published Oct. 9, 2008, and the public was invited to submit comments until Jan. 22, 2009. Public hearings were held in March 2009, and the public comment period on those proceedings closed in June 2009. OSHA staff incorporated input from the public comments and testimony to develop the final regulatory text.

Under this final rule, employers must determine whether the ground is sufficient to support the anticipated weight of hoisting equipment and associated loads. The employer is then required to assess hazards within the work zone that would affect the safe operation of hoisting equipment, such as those of power lines and objects or personnel that would be within the work zone or swing radius of the hoisting equipment. Finally, the employers is required to ensure that the equipment is in safe operating condition via required inspections and employees in the work zone are trained to recognize hazards associated with the use of the equipment and any related duties that they are assigned to perform.

Modified provisions of the rule provide that employers must:

  • Comply with local and state operator license requirements (if they meet the minimum criteria set for 1926.1427);
  • Pay for certification or qualification of their uncertified or unqualified operators;
  • Use a qualified rigger for rigging operations during assembly and disassembly;
  • Perform a pre-erection inspection of tower cranes.

The rule requires opertors of most types of cranes to be qualified or certified under one of the options set forth in 1926.1427.

The final rule detail can be viewed at www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/index.html.

The Kansas Roofing Association will provide updated information on this new standard at its fall meeting.