The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration plans to issue a new proposal next year revising its controversial regulation setting certification requirements for operators of cranes at construction sites.
Jim Maddux, director of OSHA’s construction directorate, told attendees at an Oct. 15 industry forum that the agency plans to circulate a draft for its in-house attorneys to review within the next month. “We are working very hard at this,” Maddux said. The conference, in Tysons Corner, Va., was sponsored by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).
But how soon OSHA releases the proposal will depend on other regulatory priorities already in its pipeline. Ahead of the crane rule on OSHA’s list are a final standard on silica exposure and a rule governing work in confined spaces, which has been “20 years in the making,” he noted.
OSHA issued what was to be a final cranes-and-derricks regulation in 2010, but crane users and manufacturers criticized it. In particular, they were unhappy with a requirement that operators be certified not only by crane type but also by crane capacity.
Officials of some standardized testing programs said they would comply with the 2010 rule, which initially had a November 2014 effective date. But others sought to have the rule changed. Late in 2014, OSHA said it would reopen the rule and develop a new proposal. It also pushed back the deadline, to 2017.
In April of this year, OSHA’s Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health took a first crack at reviewing a draft version of the new proposal, which eliminated the capacity requirement.
Some groups, including NCCCO, are still concerned about how OSHA will determine whether crane operators are “qualified.” In its 2010 rule, the agency indicated that certification was the equivalent of being qualified to operate a crane. Some organizations contend that decision should be left to the employers’ discretion.