Te public comment period for the NPRM was to conclude on June 20 of this year—30 days after publication—but OSHA received requests from stakeholders for an extension of the public comment period (OSHA-2007-0066-0683 and -0693). Tese requests stated that, given the complexity and significance of the NPRM, more time for submitting comments was necessary to gather information from members of the organizations and develop meaningful comments. OSHA agreed to an extension and set a 15-day extension of the public comment period, considering it a sufficient amount of time to address the concerns in light of the short period of time remaining before the deadline for crane operator certification. To that end, the public comment period concluded on July 5.

ONGOING WORK Essentially, OSHA is looking to update its standard for cranes and derricks in construction by permanently extending and clarifying each employer’s duty to ensure the competency of crane operators through required training, certification or licensing, and evaluation. OSHA is also proposing to remove an existing provision that requires different levels of certification based on rated lifting capacity of equipment. Tis proposal would clarify that, while testing organizations are not required to issue certifications distinguished by rated capacities, they are permitted to do so. Finally, it would establish minimum requirements for determining operator competency. OSHA believes that this proposal would maintain safety and health protections for workers while reducing employers’ compliance burdens. Beneath this banner, most industry leaders support the change of requiring crane operator certification “by type and capacity” to certification “by type and/or type and capacity”—acknowledging that it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure their employees know how to operate the piece of equipment they are assigned to. Additional backing can be found within OSHA’s requirement that a trainer should be a “qualified person.” Currently defined: “A qualified person means a person 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.” Moreover, OSHA is considering deleting the

requirement for operator recertification every five years, and solicited public comments about whether this requirement is necessary, or alternatively, whether compliance with proposed §§ 1926.1427 (b)(5) – Retraining, and 1926.1427 (f)(5) – Re-evaluation, would be sufficient to ensure operators continue to operate cranes safely after being certified, trained, and evaluated.

Additionally, the “Cranes and Derricks in

Construction: Operator Qualification” proposed rule would establish new information-collection requirements. Te NPRM would also modify a small number of information-collection requirements in the existing Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard (29 CFR part 1926, subpart CC) Information Collection (IC) approved by OMB (Office of Management and Budget). OSHA submitted a new ICR (Information Collection Request) that modifies the existing Cranes and Derricks in Construction package to OMB to reflect the NPRM’s new or revised information collection requirements. Some of these revisions, if adopted, would result in changes to the existing burden hour and/or cost estimates associated with the current, OMB-approved information- collection requirements contained in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard Information Collection. Other revisions would not change burden hour or cost estimates, but would substantively modify language contained in the currently OMB-approved ICR. Still, others would revise existing standard provisions that are not information-collection requirements, will not change burden hour or cost estimates, and will not modify any language in the ICR.

Moving forward, the next stage will likely involve

developing a Final Rule—which various industry insiders agree could and will likely take a while, mostly because the road to now has taken this long in the first place. With the November deadline set, OSHA has already acknowledged a request for an additional six months to prepare the Final Rule. Some industry leaders think that the next move to anticipate will probably be a notice from the Directorate of Construction that would postpone enforcement of the operator certification requirement.

All told, it should also be noted that, sooner than

later, the requirement is eventually going to land—and companies throughout the industry should prepare themselves accordingly. Industry experts point towards those who have already begun the certification process as wise to be doing so—especially since delaying will certainly result in hassles, delays, or worse—shutting down work due to absence of a federally required crane operator certification card. y


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