This is part two of a two-part series covering common questions regarding crane training requirements. In part one, we discussed restrictions on operators-in-training, who monitors operators in training, what OSHA requires for crane training and much more. See part one here.
WHAT DO THE OPERATOR TESTS HAVE TO COVER?
OSHA is specific about what areas have to be covered and has listed what it regards as essential knowledge and skills listed in paragraphs (j)(1) and (2) of 1926.1427.
WHAT IF THERE IS NO CERTIFICATION AVAILABLE FOR A SPECIFIC TYPE OF CRANE?
OSHA has said that if no accredited testing agency offers certification for a particular type of equipment, an operator will be deemed to have complied with its certification requirements if the operator has been certified for the type of crane that is “most similar.” From mobile cranes to overhead cranes, Easybook has you covered. Check out our available courses now.
HOW I DETERMINE WHAT TYPE OF CRANE IS “MOST SIMILAR”?
As a service to industry, the NCCCO Foundation has established a group of crane industry experts to address this very issue. The Crane Type Advisory Group (CTAG), referenced by OSHA in the Preamble to the Final Rule, has made several determinations as to what type is “most similar” to cranes for which a certification is program is not available. Requests for determination can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT IF OPERATORS DON’T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH?
OSHA allows tests to be administered in any language the operator understands. However, it comes with conditions: The operator is only permitted to operate cranes equipped with operations manuals and load charts that are written in the language of the certification (which must be stated on the certification card), and he/she must be able to effectively communicate with the signal person and lift director in the language used. And, of course, the crane operator testing organization has to have exams available in that language [§ 1926.1427(h)(2)].
DO ALL CRANE OPERATORS NEED TO BE CERTIFIED?
Operators of most cranes above 2,000-pound capacity when used in construction need to be certified either by a nationally accredited crane operator testing organization or through an audited employer program [§ 1926.1427(a)].
WHAT DOES A CERTIFIED CRANE OPERATOR NEED TO DO?
Nothing. CCO certification provided by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) fully meets the requirements of the OSHA rule. This applies to certifications of operators of all the crane types NCCCO currently offers (Mobile Cranes, Tower Cranes, Overhead Cranes, Articulating Cranes, Service Truck Cranes) [§ 1926.1427(d)].
WHO IS ACCREDITED?
OSHA now requires all certification organizations providing certification to crane operators to be accredited. There are several certification bodies but only four that are currently accredited.
Accredited by ANSI:
- NCCCO – National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators
- NCCER – formerly the National Center for Construction Education and Research
- EICA – Electrical Industry Certifications Association
Accredited by NCCA:
- OECP – Operating Engineers Certification Program
Note that not all certification bodies are accredited for all the programs they offer. Employers can verify for themselves which programs are included in the accreditation scope, and which bodies are accredited, by checking directly with the appropriate accrediting agency.
ONCE AN OPERATOR IS CERTIFIED, DOES HE/SHE NEED TO GET CERTIFIED AGAIN?
OSHA states that crane operator testing organizations have to provide a means of recertification at least every five (5) years so as to ensure continued competency in crane operations and knowledge. It is important to maintain certification by recertifying during the five-year certification period. If a certification lapses the certification process has to start all over again. [§ 1926.1427(d)(4)].
IF AN OPERATOR LEAVES TO GO TO ANOTHER EMPLOYER, CAN HE/SHE TAKE THE CERTIFICATION WITH HIM/HER?
If the certification was provided by an accredited crane operator testing organization, it is considered “portable” and an operator can take it with him/her, even though the employer paid for it. If the certification was issued through an audited employer program, that certification is not portable. [§ 1926.1427(d)(3)].
HOW DOES OSHA DEFINE A “CRANE” IN THE RULE?
The standard defines a “crane” as “power-operated equipment that, when used in construction, can hoist, lower and horizontally move a suspended load” [§ 1926.1400(a)(1)].
OPERATORS OF WHAT TYPE OF CRANES ARE INCLUDED IN THIS RULE?
Cranes covered by the rule, when used in construction applications, include mobile cranes, crawler cranes, tower cranes, boom trucks, articulating boom (knuckleboom) cranes, floating cranes, cranes on barges and locomotive cranes. Also included are industrial cranes (such as carrydecks), pile drivers, service/mechanic trucks with a hoisting device, monorails, pedestal cranes, portal cranes, overhead and gantry cranes, straddle cranes, and variations of such equipment. It also includes multi-purpose machines when configured to hoist and lower (by means of a winch or hook) and horizontally move a suspended load [§ 1926.1400(a)(1)].
ARE ANY LIFTING DEVICES EXCLUDED?
OSHA has excluded many lifting devices, among them: excavators, backhoes (even when used to lift suspended loads), concrete pumps, aerial lifts, tow trucks, digger derricks, gantry systems, and forklifts. All tree trimming and tree removal work is also excluded [§ 1926.1400(c)]. However, in some circumstances, many of these can be included when used in certain specialized tasks (see OSHA 1926.1400(c) Exclusions.)
ARE ARTICULATING CRANES (KNUCKLEBOOMS) INCLUDED?
When used purely to deliver materials, articulating/knuckleboom truck cranes are excluded. However, when they are used to hold, support or stabilize material to facilitate a construction activity, or they are handling prefabricated components (such as roof trusses or wall panels) or structural steel, they are covered by the new rule [§ 1926.1400(c)(17)]
HOW DOES THE RULE AFFECT ELECTRIC UTILITY PERSONNEL WHO OPERATE DIGGER DERRICKS?
Digger derricks are specifically excluded from the new rule when used for auguring holes for poles carrying electric and telecommunication lines or any other work that falls within the scope of OSHA 1926 Subpart V [§ 1926.1400(c)(4)]. However, when used in other construction lifting duties, digger derricks are not excluded. [Preamble p. 70]
I OPERATE A CRANE WITH A MAXIMUM LIFTING CAPACITY OF 10 TONS, BUT I NEVER PICK UP LOADS LARGER THAN 2,000 POUNDS. DO I NEED TO BE CERTIFIED?
Yes. The exclusion for cranes of 2,000 pounds and below refers to the maximum manufacturer-rated capacity. Even if lighter loads are lifted, it is the crane’s maximum-rated capacity that must be 2,000 pounds or less for the operator to be exempt from the requirements of 1926.1427. Employers are still responsible for training their operators on the safe operation of the type of equipment the operator will be using [§ 1926.1441(e)].
HOW ABOUT CRANES WITH ATTACHMENTS?
The rule applies to cranes when used with attachments such as hooks, magnets, grapples, clamshell buckets, orange peel buckets, concrete buckets, draglines, personnel platforms, augers or drills and pile driving equipment, whether attached to the crane or suspended [§ 1926.1400(b)].
DO OPERATORS NEED TO BE CERTIFIED IF THEY WORK IN GENERAL INDUSTRY RATHER THAN CONSTRUCTION?
OSHA 1926.1400 covers cranes in construction only. For crane work in general industry, refer to the applicable OSHA 1910 sections, such as 1910.179 and 1910.180. There are no federal operator certification requirements at this moment in general industry [§ 1926.1400(a)], however some state and local jurisdictions may require operator certification or licensure while using a crane for general industry activities.
WHAT IS AN EMPLOYER REQUIRED TO DO UNDER OSHA’S NEW EVALUATION REQUIREMENT?
The rule states that, effective February 7, 2019, an employer must conduct an evaluation of each operator to ensure he/she is qualified by a demonstration of (i) the skills and knowledge necessary to operate the equipment safely, and (ii) the ability to recognize and avert risks associated with the operation.