Bonnie Wasson of U.S. Concrete Precast Group in Phoenix, Ariz., and chair of the NPCA Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) Committee, asked committee members to address a new rule recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In the following discussion, SHE Committee members Donald Graham, director of safety for Jensen Precast, Sparks, Nev., and Julie A. Pace, senior member of The Cavanagh Law Firm in Phoenix, answer critical questions about the new OSHA ruling that relate specifically to precast concrete producers.
Donald Graham has worked as safety director at Jensen Precast in Sparks, Nev., since 1996. He is a certified safety manager with more than 30 years of experience in the safety field and is a U.S. Air Force veteran. Graham oversees the safety and workman’s compensation programs for all Jensen Precast locations in four states. Graham may be reached at [email protected].
Julie A. Pace is a senior member of The Cavanagh Law Firm in Phoenix and specializes in OSHA, fall protection, employment, litigation, labor, human resources, labor, ERISA, OFFCCP, government contracts and construction. Pace may be reached at [email protected].
Q. What is the background of this new rule?
A. Glascock: It always brings to mind my children and their future. Sustainability means living and working in a manner that does the least harm to the earth my children will inherit. As a precaster, it means choosing and enacting manufacturing
A. Pace: OSHA’s new standard on cranes in construction has been in development for a long time. The previous
standard was adopted in 1971, and OSHA has been working on a new rule since 1998. From 2002 to 2004, an OSHA committee of safety and industry professionals reached a consensus on a new rule. In October 2008, OSHA issued a proposed rule based upon the committee’s work. After public comments and hearings, OSHA published its final rule Aug. 9, 2010, with its provisions (that were) to take effect Nov. 8, 2010.
Q. What do you consider the most important change for precasters in the new OSHA rule on cranes and derricks?
A. Pace: Operators of cranes with a lifting capacity of more than 2,000 pounds must be certified either by an accredited crane-operator testing organization, an audited employer program, or U.S. military or licensed by a government agency. Training may be done in any language the employee understands. The employer must pay for the training. In addition to training crane operators, all employees must be trained regarding overhead power lines. Signal persons, competent and qualified persons, and each worker authorized to energize equipment must receive additional training for their tasks.
A. Graham: The change that will have the biggest impact on precast companies is training. Currently, mobile crane operators must be trained and that training is provided by the employer, unless you are in one of the 18 states or six cities that require specific crane operator’s licenses (see Table 1 for a list of cities and states that license crane operators). The new OSHA crane rule does not apply to states and cities that currently have crane
operator licensing programs that meet the requirements of the new standard.
Q. What are the most frequent causes of fatal crane accidents?
A. Pace: About 80% of crane-related fatalities result from the top three causes: (1) being struck by a load; (2) electrocution; and (3) being crushed during the assembly or disassembly.
Q. Will the new rule significantly impact both large and small precast producers?
A. Graham: Both large and small producers will be affected by this rule, because most truck cranes have a rated capacity over 2,000 pounds and producers with knuckle-boom cranes will be affected if they set products into the customer’s excavations. The knuckleboom crane exception is in §1926.1400(17):
(i) Articulating/knuckle-boom truck cranes that deliver material to a construction site when used to transfer
materials from the truck crane to the ground, without arranging the materials in a particular sequence for hoisting;
(ii) Articulating/knuckle-boom truck cranes that deliver material to a construction site when the crane is used to transfer building supply sheet goods or building supply packaged materials from the truck crane onto a structure, using a fork/cradle at the end of the boom, but only when the truck crane is equipped with a properly functioning automatic overload prevention device. Such sheet goods or packaged materials include, but are not limited to: sheets of sheet rock, sheets of plywood, bags of cement, sheets or packages of roofing shingles, and rolls of roofing felt.
(iii) This exclusion does not apply when:
(A) The articulating/knuckle-boom crane is used to hold, support or stabilize the material to facilitate a construction activity, such as holding material in place while it is attached to the structure;
(B) The material being handled by the articulating/knuckle-boom crane is a prefabricated component. Such prefabricated components include, but are not limited to: precast concrete members or panels, roof trusses (wooden, cold-formed metal, steel or other material), prefabricated building sections such as, but not limited to: floor panels, wall panels, roof panels, roof structures or similar items.
Q. Should producers be concerned only when using cranes off site (and not at the precast plant)?
A. Pace: The standards apply only for cranes used in construction, not manufacturing.
A. Graham: The new rule applies to mobile cranes above a rated capacity of 2,000 pounds. The new rule does not affect the permanently installed overhead cranes in precasters’ plants. When deliveries are made to job sites from the precast plant, they may not be covered under the new rule. OSHA does not regard the delivery process as a construction activity when lifting equipment is used solely to deliver building supply materials from a supplier to a construction site by placing/stacking the materials on the ground, without arranging the materials in a particular sequence for hoisting. Many precasters, however, do set their products in a customer’s excavation. In this case, operators would need to be trained and qualified under this rule.
Q. Will the cost of certifying their crane operators be significant?
A. Graham and Pace: The cost of the training for certification will have to be paid by the employer. This is set forth in §1926.1430, wherein it states that the employer ‘‘shall provide’’ all applicable training. The actual cost of the training will vary based on location and whether a company elects to train in-house or use an outside organization such as the National Commission for the Certifications of Crane Operators (NCCCO).1
OSHA estimates that the new standard will cost the construction industry $154 million each year to comply, including more than $50 million for training alone. This rule was necessary to reduce crane-related accidents and death. OSHA estimates that 175 injuries will be prevented along with 22 fatalities (out of about 90 annual fatalities) and $7 million in property damage will be averted. OSHA estimates that approximately 267,000 construction crane rental and crane-certification establishments, employing about 4.8 million workers,
will be affected by the rule. Training requirements are listed in Table 2.
Q. How soon should producers comply with training requirements?
A. Graham: The rule was published in the Federal Register on Aug. 9, 2010, and took effect Nov. 8, 2010. There is a four-year compliance period for the crane operator certification/qualification requirement. This means that employers must be in compliance by Nov. 8, 2014 (§1926.1427(k)).
Producers should begin by reading the final rule when published in November 2010, then formulate a strategy on how to train and identify the costs associated for each producer such as numbers of the operator’s states where they do business. If a producer is operating in one of the states that require licensing, they may already comply with the new rule. The best bet is not to wait until the last six months to get your operators trained.
A. Pace: The standards take effect Nov. 8, 2010. However, employers are allowed up to four years for compliance with some of the training requirements. Employers should implement training as soon as practical both to show their good faith compliance and to achieve the safety benefits of the training.
Q. How long is training certification effective?
A. Pace: Certification by an accredited crane operator testing organization (which is portable) or an audited employer program (which is not portable) will last five years. However, employer training programs must be audited every three years.
A. Graham: Producers will have to retrain their crane operators based on the conduct of that employee, or upon the results of an evaluation of the employee’s knowledge that indicates a need for retraining. Under §1926.1430 (g) Training administration:
1. The employer must evaluate each employee required to be trained under this subpart to confirm that the employee understands the information provided in the training.
2. The employer must provide refresher training in relevant topics for each employee when, based on the conduct of the employee or an evaluation of the employee’s knowledge, there is an indication that retraining is necessary.
3. Whenever training is required under subpart CC, the employer must provide the training at no cost to the employee.
Q. What new procedures are required for compliance?
A. Pace: At each new job site, the company must inspect the ground conditions with the controlling employer to ensure safe set-up locations. Special requirements are necessary if the crane could come within 20 feet of a power line. There must be an inspection of the crane by a competent person before each shift and additional inspections after repairs, assembly or other tasks. The company should use a written checklist and ensure that their competent persons are completing the checklist each day. The checklist should include each of the safety features and operational aspects of the crane equipment involved.
1 National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) http://nccco.org/licensing/index.html
2 Cranes and Derricks in Construction Final Rule, 75 Federal Register et seq. (2010), No. 152/Monday, August 9, 2010/Rules and Regulations. Information may be found at http://www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/index.html or find the complete final rule at http://www.osha.gov/FedReg_osha_pdf/FED20100809.pdf