Manufacturers, shipyard workers, and construction workers depend on industrial lifting devices to move large, heavy objects. While lifting devices like derricks, hoists, and cranes improve productivity and make work easier, they require special attention when it comes to safety.
No matter the industry, employees using or working around cranes face numerous hazards. Effective crane safety depends on employers and workers understanding the hazards related to crane operation. Some of the most common accidents are caused by:
Power line contact: Cranes are large machines with a significant operating radius, making them more likely than other types of equipment to make contact with power lines. When a crane makes contact with a power line, workers touching the crane may be electrocuted. OSHA reports that a single contact can cause multiple injuries or deaths.
Overly large loads: Cranes are designed for a specific duty and load capacity. When operators exceed the rated capacity, the crane can tip over or the structure may collapse, injuring or killing nearby workers.
- Operators who fail to use outriggers when extending, lowering, or swinging the boom greatly increase the likelihood that the crane will overturn.
- Failing to properly support the boom during disassembly will cause it to collapse and possibly crush nearby workers.
- Operating a crane on soft ground may cause the crane to tip over during operation.
- Using a mobile crane on a hill may cause the crane to slide or tip over during normal operations.
- If the operator can’t see the load, the hook may make contact with the boom tip and cause the load to fall, endangering workers.
- Workers can be caught in pinch points if the operator is unable to see them when rotating the superstructure. Usually, the worker is caught between the rotating superstructure and another stationary object.
OSHA has numerous crane safety standards which can be grouped into three major categories: general industry (29 CFR 1910), maritime industry (29 CFR 1917 and 1918), and construction industry (29 CFR 1926). This section lists some of the regulations relevant to the hazards covered in the previous section.
Power line contact: Overhead power lines pose a significant risk to crane operators and workers in the crane’s vicinity. To help lessen the risks, employers should adhere to OSHA regulations that pertain to overhead power lines and crane safety, including:
These regulations are designed to protect workers when they are working near power lines. In these standards, OSHA established clearance requirements, operating requirements, and more.
- 1910.180(c) and 1910.180(h)(3)
- 1917.45(b) and 1917.45(g)(2)
- 1918.66(f)(1) and 1918.66(a)(3-6)
- 1926.1417(o), 1926.1433 and 1926.1436
Each industry (general, maritime, and construction) requires operators to strictly adhere to their crane’s rated load capacity. Additionally, every crane must have its load capacity clearly marked and a rating chart that lists the load capacity based on operational requirements.
Improperly supporting equipment: Failing to properly support cranes can have major consequences. OSHA enforces a series of regulations that are designed to reduce risks, ensuring the work environment remains safe:
- 1926.1404(h) and 1926.1404(q)
These regulations agree on several important points. If a load will exceed the crane’s rating when used without outriggers, the operator must extend and support outriggers as the conditions require. Further, anytime a worker is working under equipment (boom, jib, and so on), it must be properly supported with blocking to prevent it from collapsing.
- 1910.180(h)(3)(xiv) and 1910.180(c)(1)(iv)
Both OSHA’s general industry and construction industries have specific regulations requiring employers and operators to pay particular attention to ground bearing conditions. Ground conditions must be stable and sufficient to support the crane’s load.
Poor visibility: Cranes are large, powerful machines. They move heavy loads that often obstruct the operator’s view. And when operators don’t have good visibility, the lives of workers and other people are put at risk.
- 1918.66(a)(7) and 1918.66(c)(3)
These regulations are designed to keep workers safe and ensure that operators have the visibility and information they need to operate their cranes safely. In general, the regulations require:
- The cab to be free of obstructions
- Warning devices to signal when a crane begins lifting a load
- A spotter to use approved hand signals or a radio to ensure that the operator can avoid hazards
- Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Final Rule. OSHA Fact Sheet, (July 28, 2010). Significant changes, requirements, and benefits for the new rule.
- Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Assembly and Disassembly, Subpart CC. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2010).
- Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Qualified Rigger, Subpart CC. OSHA Fact Sheet, (October 2010).
- Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Signal Person Qualification, Subpart CC. OSHA Fact Sheet, (October 2010).
- Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Subpart CC: Wire Rope – Inspection. OSHA Fact Sheet, (January 2013).
- Compliance Directive for the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard. OSHA Directive CPL 02-01-057, (October 17, 2014).
- 29 CFR 1926.605(a)(1) as Applied to Marine Construction. STD 03-13-002 [STD 3-13.2], (July 15, 1982). Discusses testing and certification of construction equipment used to handle cargo.
- UPDATED Frequently Asked Questions. (Updated July 18, 2016).
- Small Entity Compliance Guide for Final Rule (PDF). OSHA 3433-05 2011, (Updated September 26, 2014).
- NEW Crane Operator Certification Extension – Final Rule. OSHA delayed the enforcement date for crane operator certification by one year until November 10, 2018. Federal Register (November 9, 2017).
- Monorail Hoists Enforcement Policies [PDF]. OSHA Memo, (June 30, 2017)
- Supporting documents for ACCSH meeting on operator qualification (March 31-April 1, 2015):
- OSHA provides direction for inspecting cranes and derricks on construction worksites. OSHA News Release, (October 23, 2014).
- OSHA extends compliance date for crane operator certification requirements. OSHA News Release, (September 25, 2014).
- OSHA extends Temporary Enforcement Policy for Proximity Alarm and Insulating Link Use with Cranes and Derricks in Construction until further notice.
- Memo to Regional Administrators. OSHA Memorandum, (March 31, 2014).
Additional Resource & Training Materials from NCCCO
OSHA’S CRANE RULE
OSHA Rule Reopening Resource Center
On November 9, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an extension of the compliance date for its crane operator certification requirement to November 10, 2018, in order to revisit the record on operator certification.
The additional year will, OSHA says, provide time to address industry concerns over the “certifying by capacity” requirement and whether certification is equivalent to qualification.
Following are resources relating to this issue:
- OSHA Extends Operator Certification Deadline to 2018, November 9, 2017
- Brent Talks Certification Delay, November 2, 2017
- OSHA Issues Proposed Rule to Extend Certification Deadline, August 31, 2017
- Another Year, Another Delay, August 1, 2017
- OSHA Proposes Further Delay to Crane Rule, June 23, 2017
- Understanding OSHA: Construction May Be More Common Than You Think!, June 2017
- Are You Ready for November?, May 1, 2017
- OSHA Removes Capacity From Operator Certification, April 2015
- House Pressures OSHA to Act on Crane Operator Requirements, March 2015
- ACCSH to Discuss Crane Operator Qualifications Language, March 3, 2015
- Top Ten Frequently Asked Questions about OSHA’s Delay of Its Crane Operator Certification Requirements, Sept. 29, 2014
- OSHA Extends Compliance Date for Crane Operator Certification
Requirements, Sept. 25, 2014
- OSHA provides direction for inspecting cranes and derricks on construction worksites, U.S. Dept. of Labor Trade Release, Oct. 23, 2014
- OSHA instruction providing guidelines for enforcement procedures and inspection guidance conducted for equipment covered by 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC, OSHA Compliance Directive, Oct. 17, 2014
- “Industry Agrees with OSHA’s Proposed Delay,” American Cranes & Transport, May 2014
- OSHA Issues Proposed Rule to Extend Certification Compliance Date, February 7, 2014
- OSHA FAQs for Construction Cranes Operator Certification, Operator Qualification, and Certification by Type and Capacity
- SC&RA webnar: “What’s up with OSHA’s Crane Personnel Qualifications?”, October 23, 2013
- “The Right Solution,” American Cranes & Transport, Sept. 2013
- “OSHA’s Crane Rule Reopening, NCCCO Answers Questions,” Professional Safety, Sept. 2013
- “Refining the Requirement,” Safety + Health, July 2013
- OSHA Urged to Act Swiftly, “Certifying by Capacity” Likely to Disappear
- “Top Ten” FAQs on OSHA’s Rule Reopening Decision (Download PDF)
- “OSHA Rethinks Capacity rule, Delays Crane Certification,” Cranes Today, June 2013
- “The Slow Work of Safety,” commentary by Will North, Editor, Cranes Today, June 2013
- “OSHA Rethinks, Delays, Crane Certification,” Cranes Today, May 28, 2013
- OSHA to Reopen Crane Operator Certification Rule, May 24, 2013
- Testimony by NCCCO Executive Director Graham Brent before the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH), May 23, 2013
- “OSHA Announces Intent to Extend Compliance Date for Crane Operator Certification Requirements,” OSHA Trade Release, May 22, 2013
- “You May Already Be in Violation of OSHA’s New Service Truck Crane Rules and Not Know It,” Equipment World, May 21, 2013
- “OSHA Rules Must Change,” by Rob Weiss, Engineering News Record, May 20, 2013
- “Preserving C-DAC’s Intent,” by Thom Sicklesteel, American Cranes & Transport, December 2012
- OSHA Stakeholders Meeting April 2013 Summary
- “Industry Protests OSHA Stance on Capacity,” American Cranes & Transport, May 2013. (read full article on NCCCO website)
- Letter from IUOE to OSHA Directorate Director Maddux, April 10, 2013
- “OSHA Confirms Industry Opposition to Capacity Testing,” American Cranes & Transport, June 2013
- Industry Responds to OSHA Testing Ultimatum, March 2013
- Important Message from NCCCO President, Thom Sicklesteel
- Letter from IUOE to OSHA Directorate Director Maddux, November 28, 2012
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