Employers soon will be held to a higher level of accountability regarding construction cranes. Federal safety regulators may be asking employers for their operator’s certification card during a routine jobsite inspection or accident investigation. However, the significant yet controversial mandate for operators to be trained,tested and certified to a national standard nearly died on the bargaining table. It was the will of one hoisting expert—under intense pressure from special interests to vote it down and even facing the possibility of losing his job as a prominent contractor’s crane-fleet manager—that kept it alive.
“I was holding the bag,” says Joseph Collins, a San Antonio-based lifting consultant who sat on a Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (C-DAC), a 23-member expert panel convened by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 2003 to help update its decades-old crane rules. “There is no other machine in the industry capable of more death and destruction than a crane in an accident,” says Collins, who then managed Zachry Group’s fleet of 300 lift cranes. “That is why I went on a crusade for mandatory certification.”