On September 12, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) hosted a roundtable with OSHA, industry, labor and certification organizations to discuss the issue of requiring crane operators to be certified at different levels based on type and capacity of equipment. In a May 2012 FAQ sheet, OSHA interpreted the regulation to mean that all certification programs must have equipment type and capacity limits on each certification credential.
Effective November 2014 all crane operators in the United States must be certified to this standard. If the current regulation and interpretations stand, operators will not be able to operate equipment that exceed the capacity of the cranes upon which they are certified.
SC&RA was well represented at the meeting. Attendees included Beth O’Quinn, VP.; Robert Hileman, [resident of United Crane and Rigging; Bill Smith, EVP, Claims and Risk Management, NBIS; and Robert Weiss, VP of Cranes, Inc. SC&RA members Eric Fidler, director of product safety for Manitowoc and Chip Pocock, safety and risk manager for Buckner Companies were also active participants.
According to a report issued by the SC&RA, major industry concerns are that:
Certification by capacity will likely require many more tests for each operator than had previously been intended by the Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (C-DAC) and anticipated by the industry with the strong likelihood of making the program cost prohibitive.
As a practical matter, it is cost prohibitive to test on the largest capacity equipment. The certification bodies cannot afford to provide the equipment themselves and it can cost tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars and days just to erect it, making hands-on testing at high capacities far too expensive and unreasonable.
Capacity for a single piece of equipment can change by adding counterweight or extending the length of the boom. As a result, industry’s position is that certification by hard capacity limits won’t work.
From a labor standpoint, operators are concerned the certifications they have worked in good faith to achieve will not be valid when the new regulations take effect in 2014. They, too, are concerned about needing to pass numerous certification tests in order to be able to work.
The SC&RA said it is pleased that both SBA and OSHA representatives acknowledged there are some problems to be resolved on this issue, and they are seeking ways to find remedies.