Crane Rule: OSHA to Propose Negotiated Process

Amid consensus that OSHA's 30-year old safety standard for cranes is out of date, stakeholders are expecting the agency will soon release a notice about updating the standard through negotiated rulemaking.

Amid consensus that OSHA''s 30-year old safety standard for cranes is out of date, stakeholders are expecting the agency will soon release a notice about updating the standard through negotiated rulemaking. As of early April there was no indication from OSHA of when, nor a confirmation of whether, a notice of the move might appear in the Federal Register. The item "Cranes, Derricks, Hoists, Elevators, and Conveyors," is listed in the "prerule stage" on the most recent regulatory agenda, published Dec. 3, 2001.

There appears to be no doubt that OSHA is working on updating of the crane rule through negotiated rulemaking for Graham Brent, executive director of the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). Brent, like other stakeholders, believes revising the old rule is overdue.

"The crane rule is 30 years old, and in that time industry thinking has changed, as has the technology," he said. From the NCCCO perspective, operator qualifications are not adequately addressed in the current OSHA rule, which referenced a 1968 version of an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard.

Cranes have become more sophisticated in the intervening decades, according to a union official at the International Union of Operating Engineers.

"Hydraulic cranes were almost non-existent back in the 60''s," said the official. "Now most cranes are hydraulic." As a result, crane operators have to understand more about the machine and load charts; they cannot rely on feeling the crane start to tip to determine whether it is over-loaded.

John Molovich, safety and health representative for the United Steelworkers of America, is a veteran of negotiated rulemaking for the steel erection rule SENRAC. He said he expects OSHA will use this process to update the crane rule, and added that he thinks OSHA also ought to update the general industry standard for overhead cranes.

"In the past this took a back seat to hotter issues, like ergonomics," he said. "I and my organization would like to see them attack both rules."

By James Nash

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