The OSHA negotiated rulemaking committee to revise the cranes and derricks standard first met July 30-Aug. 1, 2003.

OSHA's Cranes & Derricks Rule Released

The new standard has been a long time coming, having begun with a July 2002 announcement of the intent to set up a negotiated rulemaking committee.

OSHA finally has released its new cranes and derricks standard, completing a rulemaking that began July 16, 2002, when OSHA announced it would create a negotiated rulemaking committee to improve crane and derrick safety in construction. That committee first met July 30-Aug. 1, 2003.

The rule will be published in the Aug. 9 Federal Register and take effect Nov. 8. To read/download the standard now, visit here.

OSHA conducted a live web chat Wednesday to discuss the new standard with stakeholders. Earlier in the day, OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels held a media briefing regarding the ruling, which he described as "a big step forward in saving lives" and decreasing injuries.

"Today we are approving a historic new standard, replacing a decades-old standard," Michaels said. "This will affect approximately 267,000 construction crane rental and crane certification establishments, with about 4.8 million workers. The goal of this standard is to prevent worker fatalities and injuries by keeping the cranes' loads and workers in the places they are intended to be. The standard contains common-sense processes and mechanisms that reflect a considerable technologic change in equipment that has occurred since the publication of the old rule."

The final rule will revise the 29 CFR 1926.550 regulation from 1971. It's of great interest to construction industry organizations and companies, such as the Associated General Contractors of America and Associated Builders & Contractors Inc.

Requiring that crane operators be certified came to be the most important and most controversial part of the proposed rule; the operator qualification and certification section of the rule is 29 CFR 1926.1427, while the training section is 1926.1430. OSHA formally recognized the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Crane Operator Certification Program on May 17, with the top officials of AGC and ABC attending the signing ceremony at U.S. Labor Department headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Michaels said the fatal crane incidents in 2008-2009 in New York City and elsewhere had an impact on the content in the new standard. "We certainly looked at those because they occurred while we were working on this," he said. "For example, at the time of our original, 40-year-old regulation, there were no synthetic slings, and so that was something we were working on, but we looked very closely at one of the collapses where people were killed from the synthetic slings tearing or being cut. So I think that influenced some of what we wrote in our regulation, which is a requirement that, among other things, the slings be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions during assembly and disassembly work, especially. In addition, one of the other accidents I think was influential in putting together our regulation revolved around the pre-erection inspection of tower crane parts. It was a faulty part that was associated with one of the collapses in New York."

He added that the new standard will establish greater responsibility for general contractors on construction projects regarding the site's ground conditions and said new rules for cranes working in the vicinity of power lines are much more clearly spelled out compared to the original standard, "which really wasn't adequate." He said "conservatively," the rule will prevent 22 deaths per year. "There are somewhere in the vicinity of 100 deaths a year from cranes," he said. "This will prevent, we believe, 22 -- we certainly hope it will prevent more, but we didn't feel comfortable saying just this promulgation of this rule alone would prevent more than that. . . . We've seen too many crane accidents over the last decade where workers, passers-by, residents have been killed. We think this will make an important contribution in saving lives."

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