SC&RA requested a limited exemption for crane operators from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulation for commercial drivers. SC&RA specifically requested exemption “on behalf of individuals who operate cranes with a rated lifting capacity of greater than 30 tons, who engage in specialized training and certification.”
Although these cranes primarily are used off-road, they are roadworthy and capable of near highway speeds. SC&RA estimated that there are approximately 65,000 operators of such cranes in the United States. The Association stressed that it takes pride in its continued attention to safety and has been assured that the exemption would not impede the industry’s safety practices.
SC&RA noted that, on average, operators spend only one to two hours of on-duty time each trip actually driving the cranes to and from the job sites; however, they have multiple periods of unscheduled breaks when they are basically “at rest” or “on break.” The Association included examples of situations that could extend the anticipated workday beyond the norm and into the infraction of the 14-hour condition of the HOS regulation:
- waiting for the scheduled time of the lift
- waiting for the item to be rigged
- waiting for the item to be lifted to arrive on the jobsite
- lifting the item and holding it in place for hours or even days while it is being secured
- holding onto an item for hours or days while it is being disassembled to be lowered to the ground
- emergency situations requiring a crane to remove wrecked autos, or trucks on the roadways to relieve traffic
- emergency situations requiring a crane to get a plane off a runway because of bad weather or emergency landings to allow runway openings
- jobsite delays extending the time on the site before driving the roadways then traffic delay issues returning to the yard
- mechanical breakdowns requiring a service technician that’s 2-3 hours of down time waiting on repairs
- weather delays
SC&RA pointed out that, without the exemption, operators frequently would be required to abandon the crane upon exhausting the 14 hours of service and to return to the vehicle the following day. “This not only significantly slows construction operations and creates substantial inefficiencies and unreasonably delay, but significantly increases costs on an industry-wide scale,” the Association said.
SC&RA further noted that transporting cranes to and from a jobsite typically requires multiple oversize/overweight permits, which already cause delays because of disparate jurisdictional regulations.