OSHA has published an official statement in the federal register that will push back the deadline for crane operator certification by one year. Although the writing was on the wall we can say for certain now that the new deadline is Nov. 10, 2018, and effective immediately. OSHA is also extending its employer duty to ensure that crane operators are competent to operate a crane safely for the same one-year period.
OSHA believes that an additional year will be sufficient to address the two issues that have concerned industry since the rule was published in 2010. These include whether an operator needs to be certified by type and capacity, or just by type, and if certification is sufficient by itself to deem an operator qualified to run a crane.
Comments from the Industry
In August 2018, OSHA announced it was seeking comment to delay crane operator certification to 2018. In the Federal Register, it said the majority of comments supported the agency’s proposed extension of the deadline for crane operators to be certified, and most agreed that an extension was necessary to give OSHA time to address the issues removing capacity from the crane standard’s certification requirements and the preservation of the employer’s role in assessing operators for safe crane operation. Below are some of the comments made in support of the delay:
- National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) supports this rule “only in response to OSHA’s stated need to address these two issues.”
- Imperial Crane Services, Inc., and the Chicago Crane Owners Association support the extension “so that crane operator’s proficiency/qualification can be further clarified in the existing cranes and derrick standard.”
- The Texas Crane Owners Association asserts that without an extension, “the obligations under [the crane standard] will undoubtedly disrupt the construction industry by creating a large number of crane operators without compliant certification.”
- The Associated General Contractors of America agrees that failure to delay the compliance date “could potentially result in significant disruptions in the construction industry with the number of crane operators in possession of certifications that would be deemed non-compliant if the November 10, 2017, effective date remains in place.”
OSHA also acknowledges the commenters’ point that while there has been time for more operators to become certified, many employers may have delayed in requiring their employees to be certified while they waited for OSHA to clarify the criteria for the certification so that they could avoid spending funds on a certification that would not meet OSHA’s standard.
To the extent that the Agency’s actions have contributed to this uncertainty, OSHA agrees that it would not be fair to penalize employers by enforcing the certification requirement before completing the separate rulemaking to change those criteria. The additional one-year extension will provide the Agency with the time it needs to address those concerns.