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OSHA announces long-awaited updates to crane operator certification requirements

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Washington — OSHA is set to publish the long-awaited updates to its crane operator certification requirements in the Nov. 9 Federal Register.

As anticipated, the agency will require certification by type of crane, but will accept certification by crane type and its lifting capacity. This will ensure “more accredited testing organizations are eligible to meet OSHA’s certification program requirements,” a Nov. 7 press release states.


In the forthcoming final rule, OSHA specifies that “certification/licensing” must be accomplished via an accredited testing service, an independently audited employer program, military training, or compliance with qualifying state or local licensing requirements.

OSHA originally sought to certify operator by crane type and capacity in its Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard in 2010. That certification requirement was supposed to go into effect in 2014, but the agency later was notified that two of the four accredited testing services were issuing certifications for type of crane rather than type and capacity.

Stakeholders also expressed concerns about the rule’s language – that certification did not mean an operator had the necessary skills. Those concerns compelled the agency to delay the requirements for another three years in September 2014 and one additional year in November 2017. The certification requirement for type and capacity was scheduled to take effect Nov. 10, but OSHA issued interim compliance guidance Nov. 5 that it would accept certifications by type or type and capacity.

Most of the new final rule will go into effect Dec. 9, except for requirements that employers evaluate crane operators and document those evaluations. Those requirements will take effect Feb. 7.

Employers also are required to “train operators as needed to perform assigned crane activities” and provide training when it is necessary to operate new equipment, according to the release.

Organizations that have completed evaluations before Dec. 9 will not need to conduct them again, OSHA states, but will need to document the completion of those evaluations.

“The new effective date provides some additional breathing room for operators and employers who have not yet completed the certification and evaluation process,” the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators states in a Nov. 8 press release. “But the message for those who have not is unchanged: Don’t wait!”

NCCCO adds that it will release a briefing document for stakeholders during the week of Nov. 12.

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