Construction, Regulatory Developments

Crane Operator Qualification Addressed by OSHA

OSHA has issued a proposed rule addressing crane operator certification in construction. Published May 21 in the Federal Register, the rule would permanently extend and clarify employers’ duties to ensure that crane operators are competent to operate equipment through training, certification or licensing, and evaluation.

Crane at construction site

JONGHO SHIN / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

According to the agency, the rule, if adopted, will increase the safety of America’s construction sites. In addition to providing long-term clarity regarding crane operator certification requirements, the proposal reinstates the employer duty to ensure that a crane operator is qualified to safely operate equipment.

Under the proposed rule, a change to the categories of certifications for crane operators would ensure that more operators are able to meet the requirement. The proposal discontinues a 2010 requirement, which never went into effect, that crane operator certification must include the crane lifting capacity for which the operator is certified. The proposal would expand the type of certification programs for crane operators and clarify that testing organizations are permitted, but not required, to issue certifications by rated capacities. Finally, it would establish minimum requirements for determining operator competency.

OSHA stated that the proposed rule is based on feedback from stakeholders in the construction industry, who expressed concerns that certification alone, as defined in the 2010 rule, does not verify that crane operators have the knowledge and operating skills to safely perform crane operations at construction sites. Rather, to ensure safety, employers must evaluate a crane operator’s competency and provide comprehensive training that supplements the kind of training needed to obtain certification.

The agency estimated that the proposed rule would impact over 100,000 crane operators and cost employers approximately $1.4 million annually. Costs would primarily stem from performing and documenting operator competency evaluations and providing any additional training needed by crane operators. However, OSHA also anticipates that the proposal would save $25.6 million by dropping the requirement for crane operators to be certified by capacity, thus eliminating the need for many operators to obtain an additional certification. Overall, the cost impact on employers is projected to be low, as many employers already comply with the rule’s provisions.

Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted electronically at, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, or by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. Comments must be submitted by June 20, 2018.

OSHA recently published a final rule extending the operator certification compliance date until November 10, 2018, in order to provide the agency with additional time to complete this rulemaking to address stakeholder concerns related to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.

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