Crane Industry Leaders Call for Training, Standards Improvements

On June 5, Representatives of the leading crane industry trade organizations announced their support for enhanced training and rigorous new standards for safe crane construction, operation and maintenance. The announcement came less than a week after a tower crane collapsed in New York.

Joel Dandrea, executive vice president of the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SC&RA), said the tragic loss of life was particularly troubling and completely unacceptable.

Dandrea said a recently formed SC&RA Tower Crane Task Force has taken on the responsibility of reviewing recent tower crane incidents and related issues in order to put forth a set of industry best practices intended to help prevent accidents and injuries in the future.

"Tower cranes are a proven, reliable technology that have been used successfully in construction projects since the 1940s," Dandrea said. According to industry statistics, about 2,100 are in use in North America on any given day. Using a conservative estimate of 50 lifts daily per crane, Dandrea estimated more than 105,000 lifts are executed safely every day.

To sustain this track record, Dandrea indicated the industry "...believes it is our responsibility to take an active and progressive role in establishing safe practices and standards for our industry and providing the information necessary for members and non-member companies to reduce workplace accidents and injuries."

Dandrea and other speakers also called for increased training and certification for crane operators and others as well as enhanced standards for crane operation. An advisory committee convened by the OSHA in July 2003 and including SC&RA representatives developed a recommended proposal for the Cranes and Derricks Construction Standard. This advisory committee, known as C-DAC, negotiated all aspects of a new standard and submitted its recommendations to OSHA in July of 2004. The promulgation process has since languished within the Department of Labor, industry officials said. In February, SC&RA wrote to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to express concern about the lack of progress in adoption of the standard and the resulting disservice to the industry, to workers and the general public. That letter came a full month prior to a crane collapse in New York that killed four.

Other industry leaders representing the National Commission For The Certification Of Crane Operators (NCCCO); the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), and NationsBuilders Insurance Services (NBIS), echoed Dandrea's remarks.

Graham Brent, executive director of NCCCO, described his group's role in developing performance standards for safe crane operation. Through comprehensive training and testing, NCCCO certifies crane operators and others to ensure they possess the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for crane operation. By requiring such certification of personnel on their sites, employers stand to reduce their risk of accidents, as well as the accompanying financial and personal loss, Brent said.

Nick Yaksich, vice president, Global Public Policy, at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) said his group and its member companies are working to ensure contractors using tower cranes follow manufacturer's erection procedures, operating and maintenance instructions, and perform all recommended and required inspections.

Bill Smith, president of NationsBuilders Insurance Services, Claims and Risk Management Services, called training and standards the two most important issues facing the crane industry today.

Industry leaders indicated that an international World Crane & Transport Summit will be convened in October 2009 on crane and transportation safety to promote harmonization of standards, increase common understanding and promote acceptance of industry best practices.

Copies of all remarks made at a press conference can be found at http://www.scranet.org.

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