The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on May 21 that it is amending its proposed rule for crane operator training and certification. The new version of the rule removes the need for crane operators to get different levels of certification based on the rated lifting capacity of the equipment. 

The new rule amends the OSHA crane standard that was published in 2010. The standard said that employers were required to only allow certified operators to operate cranes, and outlines the training requirements to receive certification. The standard went into effect in November, 2014, with a four-year phase-in period to meet training and certification requirements. The current deadline is November 10, 2018, and a comment period for the updated rule is open until June 20. 

Previously, the rated-capacity requirement allowed for operators to be qualified on any crane with the same or lower rated-capacity than the crane they had been tested on. But according to OSHA, several testing organizations objected to this requirement as they did not offer certifications by crane capacity in their programs. Following a series of meetings with industry members from from 2010 to 2015, OSHA’s Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health recommended in April 2015 that the rated-capacity requirement be removed from the standard.

According to OSHA, the change was spurred specifically by worries over the anticipated cost of training and certification on multiple classes of cranes. By OSHA’s own estimates, the rule impacts approximately 117,130 crane operators, and the total annual cost of compliance with the rule is estimates at almost $1.6 million. By eliminating the need for operators to be certified by the rated-capacity of cranes, OSHA estimates a one-time cost savings of $25.5 million to the industry. 

In addition to the change in training requirements, the new crane rule also makes permanent a requirement for employers to determine the competency of their operators on site. This goes beyond the earlier rule, which took an operator’s previous certifications as proof enough of their competency. Now, each employer will be required to evaluate every new operator as an “operator-in-training” when they first come on the site before they are allowed to run cranes unsupervised. This arrangement will usually involve a site superintendent or safety manager, and is not uncommon on current jobsites, even when operators have previous certifications.