With the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new rule for crane operation taking effect this month, the industry’s response has been less a panic over additional regulation than a sigh of relief for overdue clarifications.

“The regulation is now clear on what operator qualifications look like,” says Hank Dutton, senior technical specialist for risk control at Travelers Insurance. Dutton oversees a 41⁄2-day crane-safety training course that Travelers offers to its customers, and he has advocated for higher standards of crane training. The OSHA rule requires not only that operators be trained and certified, but also that they must be evaluated on site by a qualified supervisor. While Dutton says his program already trains operators, flaggers, riggers and signalers, the new rule may prompt more people on the site to gain the knowledge necessary to evaluate new operators. “Training is something employers understood they had to do but were not specifically told how to do it,” says Dutton. “Now it’s very clear.”

Under the new rule, all crane operators are required to be certified as of Nov. 10 (ENR 11/26 p. 21). While the new rule also requires employers to evaluate and document their crane operators’ competency at the tasks they will perform, that doesn’t go into effect until Feb. 7, 2019. Many states already require proof of training for crane operators and require certification.

“The industry response we’ve seen so far has been positive, with a certain amount of relief,” says Graham Brent, CEO of the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. NCCCO has already published brief guides for employers on training, certification and evaluation on its website, www.nccco.org. While NCCCO has had a record month for applications for certifications, it’s hardly a tsunami, he notes.

Brent says what’s still unknown is how OSHA defines a proper evaluation, but he expects some clarification by early 2019.