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Could OSHA Change Course on its Proposed Delay of Operator Certification?

Just because the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed a delay to mandatory operator certification, doesn’t mean it’s sure to happen.  Employers and operators should take notice of recent activity in Washington, D.C.

We learned last week about a different regulation that was in a similar situation to 1926.1400 Cranes and Derricks in Construction.  On August 7, OSHA withdrew a proposed rule to amend the On-Site Consultation Program.

Although this has nothing to do with cranes and derricks, the parallels between the two rules and the actions taken by the Federal Agency are worth noting.  OSHA cited stakeholder concerns that a delay to the rule would discourage employers from participating in the program as the key reason to move forward with the regulation.  Many in the crane industry fear the same would happen if crane operator certification is delayed.

The two rules also share similar timing.  OSHA first issued an intent to delay and outlined plans for changing the Consultation Program regulation at the end of July, just a few months after its proposal about crane operator certification.  Yet, no such plan has been forthcoming from OSHA as it relates to cranes and derricks.  The timing of the final rule for the Consultation Program regulation preceded the crane operator regulation by just 8 days.

While we remain unsure of what OSHA will do regarding the crane operator certification regulation and its proposed delay, we do know that:

  1. A delay is unnecessary – Crane Institute Certification (CIC) has offered specific solutions to OSHA that fully solve the concerns raised, and
  2. According to OSHA research and Province of Ontario studies conducted over a period of years, 80% fewer crane-related deaths and 50% fewer accidents occur with certified crane operators. 

In addition, Peg Seminario, Director of Safety and Health for the AFL-CIO, testified on August 1, 2013 before the Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights, and Agency Action Senate Judiciary Committee on Justice Delayed: The Human Cost of Regulatory Paralysis.  According to Seminario:

“It is inexcusable and shameful that even where there was broad agreement that the cranes and derricks standard was needed and about what the rule should require, that the regulatory system failed to protect workers.  In this case, according to OSHA, during the eight year rulemaking, 176 workers died in crane accidents that would have been prevented if the crane and derricks standard had been in place.”

The article makes the point clear: OSHA knows that certification saves lives and that delays will mean more people will die, unnecessarily.

Please contact OSHA and clearly express your expectation that OSHA remember its mission “to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for every working man and woman in the Nation.”  This mission does not align with OSHA’s recent attitude that the purpose of regulations is to provide the agency with greater authority for imposing citations and fines on employers.  No one should get hurt in their effort to earn a paycheck.  The purpose of regulations is not to create a revenue stream for the government.  Tell OSHA not to delay the regulation that requires accredited certification of crane operators, which will save lives and jobs.

Crane operators, riggers, people that work near cranes, and their families trust us to help make job sites as safe as possible.  These facts are what drive Crane Institute Certification daily to persevere.  CIC is compliant with the 2014 regulation as it stands, and we will make sure CIC stays compliant with changes, if made.  Employers can rely on CIC to:

  • Conduct meaningful certifications.  CIC certified by type and capacity years before the OSHA regulation because knowing what type and capacity equipment an operator can operate helps employers make sound decisions and gives operators credentials with merit.
  • Assess the knowledge, skill and abilities of operators for the purpose of reducing accidents that are outrageously expensive in terms of lives and jobs.
  • Provide affordable, accessible and nationally accredited certifications for crane operators and riggers.

I personally hope that out of respect for the lives at stake, for the negotiated rule-making process that was fully supported by industry experts, and for the millions of dollars already invested by the industry, that OSHA does not delay.  Regardless, we will continue to drive our business based on the safety and needs of the industry.

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