December 5, 2018

Crane Operator Certification Standard Takes Effect

crane operator certification

You can stop holding your breath: OSHA issued a final rule in regards to crane operator certification standards on November 9, 2018.

The long-anticipated rule underwent eight years of proposals and public comment periods, and it was published in the Federal Register on November 9. Most new sections of the rule go into effect on December 10, 2018, but others will be effective on February 7, 2019.

This latest rule does not change the date by which operators needed to be certified; that date was November 10, 2018.

Crane Operator Certification

Since 2010, crane operator certification rules have been under review by OSHA with input from the construction industry. The standing rule at the time was outdated, having been issued in 1971, and it was high time to catch up with the new types of cranes being used. OSHA predicted an updated rule would prevent 22 fatalities and 175 injuries each year.

What’s changing?

The final rule published in November 2017 set a November 2018 certification deadline and laid some groundwork for how crane operators and business owners should prepare for the new standard. During the past year, employers were required to verify their crane operators’ competency. That standard is staying and took effect on November 10, 2018. The newest rule makes the employer obligation permanent, meaning employers will still need to ensure crane operators are sufficiently certified.

The employer obligation remains because, while crane operator certification ensures employees can operate a specific type of crane, it doesn’t guarantee that the operator can perform the task they’ve been assigned with that crane. The previous rule would have made it necessary for employers to evaluate their crane operators after the effective date. But the final rule exempts employers from that if their operators are already employed and evaluated prior to the effective date.

The final rule makes it necessary for employers to document their evaluations of crane operators, though they’ll have until February 7, ,2019 to complete the evaluations and documentation. If you evaluated employed operators prior to this rule being published, then you only have to complete the documentation portion of this standard by the effective date.

With this final rule, OSHA also removed the unpopular standard that would have required crane operator certification by both crane type and capacity. Certifying by capacity gave operators no real safety advantage. Operators can still earn a capacity certification if they choose.

This rule made a few final changes to how crane operators will be certified, but the certification itself isn’t a new provision. Your operators need to be certified by crane type. If you already have a process in place that involves evaluating operators’ skills and documenting their evaluation, then you’re already doing what you’re supposed to do.

Questions about the new rule? Get in touch with your regional OSHA rep for specific questions about crane operator certification.

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