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Questions about OSHA crane requirements? We have answers - Part One

Questions about OSHA crane requirements? We have answers - Part One

Most employers are likely familiar with the crane operator training and certification requirements of 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) published in 2010. The latest Rule, published in November 2018, modified some of those and added a new process called “Evaluation.” We asked NCCCO to give us an overview of the essential elements of each of these requirements.

WHAT TRAINING DOES OSHA REQUIRE AND WHAT SPECIFICALLY MUST TRAINING INCLUDE?

Employers must provide each operator-in-training with sufficient crane training, through a combination of formal and practical instruction, to ensure that the operator-in-training develops the skills, knowledge, and ability to recognize and avert risk necessary to operate the equipment safely for assigned work.

OSHA lists the knowledge and skills it has identified as critical to safe crane operation in 1926.1427 (j)(1) and (2).

CAN OPERATORS-IN-TRAINING OPERATE CRANES EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT CERTIFIED?

Yes, but they are restricted in what they can do, and they must be continuously monitored.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE RESTRICTIONS ON WHAT AN OPERATOR-IN-TRAINING CAN DO?

OSHA has identified five circumstances in which operators-in-training who are not yet certified are not allowed to operate cranes:

  1. If any part of the crane, load line, or load (including rigging and lifting accessories), if operated up to the crane’s maximum working radius in the work zone could get within 20 feet of a power line that is up to 350 kV, or within 50 feet of a power line that is over 350 kV.
  2. Hoisting personnel.
  3. Multi-crane lifts.
  4. Over a shaft, cofferdam, or in a tank farm.
  5. Multiple-lift rigging operations (unless the operator’s trainer determines that the operator-in-training’s skills are sufficient).

WHO MONITORS THE OPERATORS-IN-TRAINING?

The person who OSHA identifies as the “operator’s trainer” is responsible for continuously monitoring the operator-in-training. He or she must be an employee or agent of the operator-in-training’s employer, and must have the knowledge, training, and experience necessary to direct the operator-in-training on the equipment in use.

CAN THE PERSON MONITORING THE OPERATOR-IN-TRAINING DO OTHER THINGS?

OSHA states that, while monitoring the operator-in-training, the operator’s trainer must perform no task that detracts from the trainer’s ability to monitor the operator-in-training. Moreover, the operator’s trainer and the operator-in-training must be in direct line of sight of each other, and they must be able to communicate verbally or by hand signals. For tower cranes, direct line of sight is not required.

WHAT DOES OSHA MEAN BY “CONTINUOUSLY” MONITORED?

OSHA says that the operator-in-training must be monitored by the operator’s trainer at all times. Short breaks are permitted, however, so long as the break is no longer than 15 minutes and there is no more than one break per hour. Immediately prior to the break the operator’s trainer must inform the operator-in-training of the specific tasks that he/she is to perform and the limitations to which he/she must adhere during the operator trainer’s break. Of course, those tasks must be within the operator-in-training’s abilities.

DO EMPLOYERS HAVE TO RETRAIN?

Yes. Employers must provide retraining in relevant topics for each operator when, based on the performance of the operator, or an evaluation of the operator’s knowledge, there is an indication that retraining is necessary.

WHAT DO EMPLOYERS HAVE TO DO TO ENSURE OPERATORS ARE QUALIFIED?

There are three essential components to this process. Employers must ensure that each of their operators is trained, certified (or licensed) and evaluated.

WHAT IF THERE ARE OPERATORS WHO ARE NOT YET CERTIFIED?

They are classified as “operators-in-training” and can operate under supervision and with certain restrictions (see 1926.1427(b)(2) thru (4)).

ARE ANY CRANES EXEMPT FROM THIS REQUIREMENT?

Operators of derricks, sideboom cranes or equipment with a maximum manufacturer-rated hoisting/lifting capacity of 2,000 pounds or less are not required to have certified operators.

WHAT IF I WORK AS A CONTRACTOR TO THE MILITARY?

This rule still applies. The military exclusion from the rule only covers employees of the United States military (Department of Defense or Armed Services). All contractor companies with crane operators on site need to meet the certification requirements listed [§ 1926.1427(a)(3)].

WHAT ABOUT OPERATORS WHO WORK IN STATES THAT REQUIRE A LICENSE? DO THEY HAVE TO BE CERTIFIED ALSO?

The state license should suffice so long as the state program meets or exceeds OSHA’s requirements; that is the licensing authority’s responsibility. In most cases licensed operators will have obtained NCCCO certification as a condition of obtaining their state license. In those cities or states where the license requirements do not meet OSHA’s certification requirements, OSHA requires employers also obtain certifications for their operators. [Federal Register Vol. 83, No. 218, November 9, 2018, Page 56125]

WHO PAYS FOR THE CERTIFICATION AND OR LICENSE?

The employer does. It wasn’t certain in the 2010 Rule, but OSHA made that very clear in this latest Rule.

WHERE CAN I GO TO GET CERTIFICATION?

The issuing entity must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency (such as ANSI or NCCA) so as to be sure that industry-recognized criteria for written testing materials, practical examinations, test administration, grading, facilities/equipment, and personnel have been met. Easybook Training can help you find the right training course, at the right time and location.

CAN EMPLOYERS DEVELOP THEIR OWN CERTIFICATION PROGRAM?

Employers can develop their own program, but it must meet essentially the same development, management, and test administration requirements of a certification program from a third-party organization. And it must be audited by someone who is certified to evaluate such programs by an accredited crane operator testing organization. The requirements are laid out in 1926.1427(e). Again, let Easybook Training guide you. With 28 courses available, Easybook can be your go-to source for booking a training course.

DOES CERTIFICATION HAVE TO BE ACCORDING TO THE CAPACITY OF THE CRANE OR JUST BY TYPE?

Certification does not have to be by capacity. In fact, OSHA has stated that in all of its research it found no additional safety benefit for certifying by anything other than type of crane, and it would impose a huge financial burden on employers unnecessarily if the capacity of the crane were included.

IS CERTIFICATION A ONE-TIME EVENT?

No. OSHA requires that operators recertify every five years. They recognize that “certification for life” would not allow for operators to be periodically tested to ensure they have retained essential safety knowledge and are up to speed with the latest regulatory and technical developments. In any case, accrediting bodies require certification organizations to have a recertification component to their programs.

Now that your questions are answered, head over to Easybook Training to find the right crane training course for your needs.

MORE QUESTIONS ANSWERED IN PART TWO...

This is part one of a two-part series covering common questions regarding crane training requirements. Part two will cover questions regarding language hurdles, what accreditation is, if operator certification has to occur more than once, and many more.