OSHA issues final rule on crane operator certification requirements

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published a final rule that clarifies certification requirements for crane operators and maintains the employer’s responsibility to ensure that crane operators can safely operate the equipment.

Under the final rule, which was published Nov. 7, employers are required to train operators as needed to perform assigned crane activities, evaluate them, and document successful completion of the evaluations.

Employers that have evaluated operators prior to Dec. 9, 2018, will not have to conduct those evaluations again, but will only have to document when those evaluations were completed.

The rule also requires crane operators to be certified or licensed and receive ongoing training as necessary to operate new equipment.

Operators can be certified based on the crane’s type and capacity, or type only, which ensures that more accredited testing organizations are eligible to meet OSHA’s certification program requirements, OSHA noted in a news release.

“OSHA’s task of providing guidance for Crane and Derrick operation was first introduced in 1979,” noted Mike Hyland, Senior Vice President, Engineering Services, at the American Public Power Association.

OSHA updated this original Crane and Derrick Standard in 2010, “however, there has been some confusion and ambiguity as to the cost versus safety effectiveness of the 2010 rules for ‘training, certification or licensing, and evaluation,’” he said.  

This 2018 update to the OSHA Cranes and Derricks in Construction rule is the result of construction industry input, Hyland pointed out.

The final rule revises a 2010 requirement that crane operator certification must specify the rated lifting capacity of cranes for which the operator is certified. Compliant certifications that were already issued by type and capacity are still acceptable under this final rule.

The final rule, with the exception of the evaluation and documentation requirements, will become effective on Dec. 9, 2018, while the evaluation and documentation requirements will become effective on February 7, 2019.