OSHA Issues Final Rule on Crane Operator Certification Requirements

New Regulations in Effect 11/10/2018

OSHA has issued it's final rule regarding crane operator certification requirements. While this new standard seems long and daunting, it really boils down to a few main points.

Certification Changes

OSHA is no longer requiring crane operators to be certified by type and capacity. Now the wording states that crane operators need to have certification by "type" or "type and capacity". 

Employers Must Evaluate Operators

It is now a permanent requirement that it is the employer's duty to evaluate their operators. This allows them to continuously evaluate them in order to ensure they maintain the knowledge to safely operate the crane. This is in addition to the required certification.

The employer evaluation is due to the fact that certification is for base-line knowledge of crane operations and is not sufficient to ensure competency. Since work sites vary there is really no way for a third-party certification to be able to test for all the situations that crane operators will face. 

Similarly, an employer must re-evaluate a crane operator if they are to use a different crane that would require:

"significantly different skills, knowledge, or ability to identify and avert risk."

While some may interpret that to mean that each time an operator uses a different crane that they must be re-evaluated, OSHA does not intend for it to be a complete full re-evaluation. It is meant to be an evaluation to ensure that the operator has the skills, knowledge, and ability to identify and advert risk in the new tasks that they are to perform or for the crane that they will be operating. All evaluations will be documented and kept by the employer on the work site and for as long as they are employed by the employer. However, the employer has the flexibility to decide how to capture and store these evaluations.

Critical Lifts for Trainees

Operators-in-training will now be able to perform a "critical lift" if the operator is under direct supervision of a trainer. This means that they will be able to perform lifts where the equipment, load line, or load could possibly get within 20 feet of a power line that is 350 kV or within 50 feet of a power line that is over 350 kV. They can use the equipment to hoist personnel, in multiple-equipment lifts, if the equipment is used over a shaft, cofferdam, or in a tank farm (1926.1408 (a)(1)(i-iv)).

No Changes for Derricks and Sidebooms

There will be no changes in certification/training requirements for derricks, sideboom cranes, or low-capacity cranes (cranes less than 2,000 lbs.). They must still be trained in accordance to 1926.1430, simply, employers are required to:

"train each operator ... on the safe operation of equipment the individual will operate."

New Trainer Qualifications

OSHA is also changing the qualifications for trainers with this new standard. They are no longer requiring that the trainer passes the written part of the certification process or be a certified operator. They are now requiring the trainer:

“have the knowledge, training, and experience necessary to direct the operator-in-training on the equipment in use.”

This is in large part to due to the fact that many non-certified trainers are either retired/semi-retired or have let their certification run out because they have moved onto another position that no longer requires them to have that certification. It in no way means that they are not capable of being able to train others on the proper controls and operations of a crane. 

There are changes in the language and how the standard will be laid out in order to help the flow of the new standard and for clarification on certain points. OSHA has been working on this new standard for many years in order to help ensure that all workers go home safe everyday. 


OSHA Final Rule for Crane Operator Certification Requirements


FAQ's - Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Operator Qualification

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