OSHA Urged to Act Swiftly on Crane Rule Reopening “Certifying by Capacity” Requirement Likely to Disappear

In the wake of the announcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to extend the compliance date for its crane operator certification requirements, the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) has urged OSHA to pursue the necessary rulemaking without further delay.

OSHA announced May 22 that it would postpone the effective date of its crane operator certification requirements by three years to November 10, 2017. This would allow time, Jim Maddux, Director of the Directorate of Construction said, for OSHA “to re-examine the issue of certifying by capacity, and the proper way to ensure crane operators are qualified.”

Speaking at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) in Washington, DC, May 23, Maddux reported that OSHA had put a team in place that had been tasked with ensuring that “we have a good crane standard to ensure crane safety.”

While NCCCO “reluctantly” supported OSHA’s action, it urged the agency to act without further delay, said NCCCO Executive Director, Graham Brent, in testimony before ACCSH.

“Although it is regrettable that it has taken OSHA so long to recognize that the industry has serious problems with the agency’s stance on issues such as certifying by capacity and the meaning of certification, it is a vindication of the efforts of concerned industry stakeholders over the past 18 months to raise awareness on these matters that OSHA has, finally, taken notice,” Brent said.

“We strongly urge OSHA to pursue the second phase of this initiative—the development of proposed rulemaking—with all haste,” he said. “An extension of the deadline, already unpopular with many sectors of industry—is worthless without immediate and substantive action to solicit industry comments that will result in a resolution accurately reflecting the intent of the industry group—C-DAC—that OSHA itself assembled to develop this rule.”

Members of the original committee established by OSHA–the Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee or C-DAC committee–have repeatedly said it was not their intent to require operators to be certified by capacity in the way OSHA has since viewed it. Testimony from industry representatives at OSHA’s Stakeholder Meetings in April overwhelmingly confirmed the lack of support for OSHA’s position on this issue.

“NCCCO has stayed faithful to the wishes of industry and preserved its certification programs in the format that, over the last 17 years, has been proven to save lives and reduce accidents,” Brent said. He noted that CCO certification was “fully compliant” with the C-DAC committee’s intent to provide an effective means of ensuring crane operators are certified.

“All CCO certifications comply with the current OSHA federal law,” Brent said, “which, following OSHA’s announcement, will remain in place for at least the next four years. NCCCO stands, now as always, behind the 130,000 certifications it has issued since 1996,” he added. “CCO-certified operators can rest assured that their certifications are, and will remain, valid.”

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