Summer 2018
Operator certification/qualification: What is OSHA up to now?

By Anna DeBattiste

As many of you know, OSHA went back to rule-making on two components of the crane standard:

  1. The requirement that certification be by capacity, as well as type. It is now generally accepted that this requirement will be dropped, although it hasn’t been made official yet. NCCER has already responded by dropping the capacity designation from their certifications (and NCCCO never had a capacity designation in the first place).
  2. Clarification of the requirement that employers ensure their operators are qualified to run the specific equipment they are assigned to run. This issue came about because stakeholders had expressed the concern that “certification was insufficient to guarantee operators' safety, but was more akin to a learner's permit.” The problem was that the original regulation specified that once the certification requirement went into effect, the employer’s duty to ensure qualification would go away. Clearly, however, both certification and qualification are needed. The new proposed regulation seeks to keep the employer duty to qualify in place for good, and to spell out exactly how that qualification process is supposed to work.

The period for public comment on the operator qualification issue was extended to July 5th and is now closed. There are over 1800 comments on the OSHA website, and I read just enough of them to know that the cartoon below describes how most of you feel! The current proposal, which involves requiring employers to have an in-house program for evaluating and documenting operator qualification on an annual basis, would mean more paperwork for everyone. No one wants to have more paperwork, right?


But let’s think about this realistically. Are you really putting employees on the most expensive pieces of equipment you own without making sure they can run them safely? No, of course not.  All this proposed rule is asking is that you formalize and document the process you probably already have in place.  Once you get it set up, it shouldn’t be that big a deal.


The compliance directive for OSHA inspectors visiting a crane construction site, which was published back in 2014, says that inspectors must, at a minimum, “Verify operator qualifications and training. Observe crane operations and interview both the employer and the operator to determine whether the operator is competent to operate the equipment safely.” Employers who have a formal, documented system, rather than a haphazard one, will have a much easier time with this and less overall worry. And by the way, the compliance directive says the same thing about interviewing and observing signal persons, riggers, assembly/disassembly directors and lift directors to ensure qualification.


As we’ve said before, if the current proposal passes, we will be available on a consulting basis to help employers set up their programs, or even to handle the annual qualification process for them. In the meantime, keep in mind that the deadline for a nationally accredited certification is still November 10th of this year at this point, so if you still have uncertified operators it is time to get going. We’ve got two fall classes before the deadline, one in Burlington in September and one in Concord in October, and we will add more if we see a need for them. We also have a limited number of weeks still available for onsite classes if you have a group of operators to certify.

crane cartoon necs newsletter
  New England Crane School
Public Class Schedule

September 24, 2018

Signal/rigging class, Burlington, VT, promo code for AGCVT members


September 25 – 28, 2018

NCCER operator certification class, Burlington, VT, promo code for AGCVT members and Woods CRW customers


October 15 – 18, 2018

NCCER operator certification class, Concord, NH sponsored by ABC NH-VT


October 26, 2018

Signal/rigging class, White River Junction, VT, promo code for AGCVT members


February 4, 2019

Signal/rigging class, Montpelier, VT, sponsored by AGCVT


February 5 – 8, 2019

NCCER operator certification class, Montpelier, VT, sponsored by AGCVT


February 11, 2019

Signal/rigging class, Portland, ME


February 12 – 13, 2019

Lift director qualification training, Portland, ME


February 20, 2019

Signal/rigging class, Burlington, VT


February 21 – 22, 2019

Lift director qualification training, Burlington, VT


March 11 – 14, 2019

NCCCO operator certification class, Portland, ME


April 1, 2019

Signal/rigging class, Portsmouth, NH


April 2 – 5, 2019

NCCER operator certification class, Portsmouth, NH


For more information or to register, call Anna at 303-817-5663 or visit www.newenglandcraneschool.com


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