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Washington Labor & Employment Wire » OSHA Publishes Proposed Rule on Cranes and Derricks

OSHA Publishes Proposed Rule on Cranes and Derricks


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On October 9, 2008, OSHA published an 1,100-plus-page proposed rule to protect employees from the hazards associated with hoisting equipment, including cranes and derricks, used in construction activities.  OSHA estimates that 89 crane-related fatalities occur per year in construction work. The leading causes of crane-related fatalities include electrocution, crushing during assembly/disassembly, failure of a boom or cable, tip-over, falls, and being struck by the load or counterweight.  The proposed rule addresses these major causes of fatalities.

Under the proposed rule, which would modify 29 C.F.R. Part 1926, employers must first determine if the ground is sufficient to support the anticipated weight of the hoisting equipment and associated loads.  Next, the employer must assess hazards within the work zone that would affect the operation of the equipment, such as power lines and personnel.  Finally, the employer must ensure that the equipment is in safe operating condition by both inspections and employees in the work zone who are trained to recognize hazards associated with the use of the equipment. 

The proposed rule also requires certification of crane operators through one of four options, including certification by (1) an accredited crane/derrick operator testing organization; (2) an employer’s own audited qualification program; (3) the U.S. military; or (4) a licensed government entity.

The proposal is the culmination of an effort begun in 1998 with an OSHA advisory committee.  In 2002, OSHA initiated negotiated rulemaking, a process by which a proposed rule is developed by a committee comprised of members who represent interests that will be significantly affected by the rule.  In July 2004, a 23-member federal Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee reached consensus on a draft document that formed the basis of the proposed rule, but it took another four years for a proposed rule to be issued.

Comments and requests for a public hearing should be sent to OSHA by December 8, 2008 through the federal e-Rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov/ , using Docket ID OSHA-2007-0066.