OSHA has also revised the two additional sections of the crane standard that address operator training and competency. However, OSHA still requires that operators re-certify every 5 years and that accrediting bodies have a re-certifying component to their program that allows for operators to be tested to ensure that they have retained safety knowledge and they are up to speed with the latest regulatory and technical developments. The certification issuing entity (like NCCER) must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency (such as ANSI or ASME) so as to be sure that industry-recognized criteria for written testing materials, practical examinations, test administration, grading, facilities/equipment, and personnel have been met. By meeting such protocol and upon completing a successful audit, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities was certified as an Accredited Assessment Center through NCCER.
Another change in the final rule of the crane standard is the clarification of the employer’s obligation to evaluate the competency of the operator and their ability to work safely. Just as an employee’s driver’s license does not guarantee the employee’s ability to drive all vehicles safely in all conditions of the employee’s workplace, certification does not ensure that the crane operator has sufficient knowledge and skill to operate all cranes and other lifting equipment safely. The employer evaluation of a crane operator’s ability, experience and competency is a fundamental part of workplace safety. This evaluation part of the rule goes into effect on February 7, 2019 and states that employers must conduct an evaluation of each operator to ensure that they are qualified by a demonstration of the skills and knowledge necessary to operate the equipment safely and the ability to recognize and avert risks associated with that operation. The evaluation must also include the operator’s ability to perform the hoisting activities required for the work that they are assigned, including blind lifts, personnel hoisting and multiple lifts.
Skills and knowledge, as addressed by OSHA, include those types of safety devices, operational aids and software the crane is equipped with. The evaluation must also take into account the size and configuration of the crane as the manufacturer has designed it to function; including lifting capacity, boom length and radius, attachments and counterweight configuration. The evaluation must be documented and must include the printed names and signatures of the operator and the evaluator, the date of the evaluation and the make, model and configuration of the crane used in the evaluation. Re-evaluations are required whenever you provide retraining to an operator but should only focus on the areas which the retraining covered. You must retrain an operator whenever you believe it’s necessary based on an operator’s performance or an evaluation of the operator’s knowledge.
OSHA’s final rule now clarifies restrictions for operators-in-training. Those employees must be provided with sufficient training, through a combination of formal and practical instruction, to ensure that they develop the skills, knowledge, and ability to recognize and avert risk necessary to operate the equipment safely for assigned work. These employees may operate cranes but they must be continuously monitored by their trainer. There are, however, restrictions on the duties in which operators-in-training who are not yet certified are not allowed to operate cranes:
(1) If any part of the crane, load line, or load (including rigging and lifting accessories), if operated up to the crane’s maximum working radius in the work zone could get within 20 feet of a power line that is up to 350 kV, or within 50 feet of a power line that is over 350 kV.
(2) Hoisting personnel.
(3) Multi-crane lifts.
(4) Over a shaft, cofferdam, or in a tank farm.
(5) Multiple-lift rigging operations (unless the operator’s trainer determines that the operator-in-training’s skills are sufficient).
The final rule, with the exception of the evaluation and documentation requirements, will become effective on Dec. 9, 2018. The evaluation and documentation requirements will become effective on February 7, 2019.
IAMU has two mobile crane operator examination and certification classes during the weeks of January 7th and February 11th, 2019. Go to this LINK to register for either class.