By Evan Gurley
While there has been a lot of talk recently about the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration extending the compliance date for its mobile crane operator certification requirement until Nov. 10, 2017, precasters may have lost sight of Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard requirements affecting crane operators, riggers and signalpersons.
OSHA allowed for a four-year implementation period (which turned out to be seven years with the new deadline) for mobile crane operators to be certified under the new rule published in August 2010. However, the requirements for signalpersons and riggers to be qualified took effect on Nov. 8, 2010 – just 90 days after the new rule (29 CFR 1926, Subpart CC) was made final. The short compliance period, combined with the lack of awareness and urgency, has resulted in precasters receiving numerous citations during random OSHA inspections.
The top OSHA citations under the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard are:
- 1926.1428(a) – Signal person not qualified
- 1926.1425(c)(3) – Materials not rigged by a qualified rigger
- 1926.1428(a)(3) – No documentation for the signal person
- 1926.1412(f)(1) – No annual inspections performed by a qualified person
- 1926.1408(a)(2) – No determination for working radius closer than 20 ft to a power line
- 1926.1417(c)(1) – Operators manual, load charts, hazard warnings, etc… not in the cab at all times
- 1926.1412(d)(1) – A determination for safety was not made by competent person after a deficiency was noted during a visual inspection
- 1926.1412(e)(3)(i) – Monthly crane inspection results, missing or signed documentation not maintained
- 1926.1412(f)(2) – Inspections not performed annually by a qualified person or as specified
- 1926.1411(f)(2)(xvii) – Missing labels supplied by the manufacturer
1. Signal person not qualified. Since the OSHA ruling went into effect, the most common citation has been that the signal person(s) are not qualified.
What’s the difference between certified and qualified? The OSHA rule uses the word certification to describe a process whereby someone passes both written and practical tests administered by an accredited certification body. The term qualification means one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, successfully demonstrated the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project. To obtain this qualification, a qualified evaluator must test the person. The qualified evaluator is defined as someone who has demonstrated they are competent in accurately assessing whether individuals meet the qualification requirements in this subpart for a signalperson (1926.1401).
OSHA now requires that a signal person be qualified for each of these scenarios (OSHA 29 CFR1926.1428(c)):
- The point of operation is not in full view of the operator (1926.1419(a))
- The operator’s view is obstructed in the direction the equipment is traveling
- Either the operator or the person handling the load determined that a signal person is needed for site-specific safety concerns
2. Materials not rigged by a qualified rigger. Similar to signal persons, riggers have to be qualified, not certified, when rigging a load that will be handled by employees in the fall zone, when rigging in connection with assembly/disassembly work. Rigging a load is an important job in any crane operation because improper rigging may result in damage to the product/machinery and personnel injury.
3. No documentation for the signal person. This requirement outlined in the OSHA standard 29 CFR 1926.1428(a)(3) states that an employer must have the documentation available at
the job site/plant regarding whom the signal person is
employed by and the documentation must specify the type of signaling that they were qualified for (e.g. radio signals, hand signals, etc.).
4. No annual inspections performed by a qualified person. OSHA 9 CFR 1926.1412(f)(1) states an annual inspection must be performed by a qualified person and disassembly is
required, as necessary, to complete this inspection. The equipment must be inspected for the following (29 CFR 1926.1412(f)(2)(i) – (xxi):
- Equipment structure
- Structural members
- Bolts, rivets and other fasteners
- Welds for cracks
- Safety devices
5. No determination for working radius closer than 20 ft to a power line. Before beginning equipment operations including assembly/disassembly, the employer must identify the work zone. According to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, an average of 15 crane operators/nearby construction workers are electrocuted every year from crane contact with an active power line.
6. Operator manual, load, hazard warnings, etc… not in the cab at all times. OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1417(c)(1) states procedures applicable to the operation of the equipment, including rated capacities or load charts, recommended operating speeds, special hazard warnings, instructions, and operator’s manual must be readily available in the cab at all times for use by the operator.
7. A determination for safety was not made by competent person after a deficiency was noted during a visual inspection. OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1412(d)(2) states if any deficiency is identified during an inspection, an immediate determination must be made by the competent person as to whether the deficiency is a safety hazard. If it is assessed that the deficiency identifies as a safety hazard, the equipment must be taken out of service until corrected.
8. Monthly crane inspection results, missing or signed documentation not maintained. Monthly crane inspections are required to be performed by a trained and qualified inspector to ensure proper and safe working conditions.
9. Inspections not performed annually by qualified person or as specified. OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1412(f)(2) states the equipment must be inspected by a qualified person every 12 months.
10. Missing labels supplied by the manufacturer. OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1412(f)(2)(xvii) states warning labels and decals are required to be supplied with the equipment by the manufacturer. Labels must be replaced if missing or unreadable.
Evan Gurley is a technical engineer with NPCA.
Delores Lyon says
Wow, I didn’t know that OSHA has already changed the rules for crane operation again. However, it is nice seeing all of the common citations and updates here. In fact, I think I’ll have my assistant take a look at this and then check to make sure we follow this advice. It’s important that my whole crew is certified, not just qualified, for operating heavy machinery.
Sara Geer says
Thanks for the comment Delores! I’ll be sure to pass along your thoughts to Evan. He’ll appreciate that his article is helping your crew stay current with OSHA safety regulations.