'Good Chemistry' Marks Crane Rulemaking Panel's Inaugural Meeting

Amid high hopes from committee members and observers, OSHA launched the effort to use negotiated rulemaking to update its 30-year old cranes and derrick standard. The 23-member cranes and derricks negotiated rulemaking advisory committee (CDNRAC) held its first meeting July 30-Aug. 1 in Washington, DC.

Issues that dominated the first meeting included:

  • Qualifications of signal-persons and communication systems;
  • Defining what is a "crane" and a "derrick" in order to determine the scope of the new rule.

"We're having a good dialogue and making good progress," commented committee member Emmett Russell during a break in the final day's meeting. Russell represents the International Union of Operating Engineers. "Many of us know each other from work on other committees, and this helps the group chemistry."

For example, the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) had a "Subpart N-Cranes" work group, some of whose members now belong to CDNRAC.

Although there have been reports that some in the agency are lukewarm about negotiated rulemaking, OSHA Administrator John Henshaw, who attended the first day's meeting, reaffirmed his commitment to the process.

The bonhomie among OSHA and committee members in the current effort contrasts with the acrimony that marked the end of negotiated rulemaking when it was last used, e.g. in the steel erection standard. While that effort was ultimately successful, it took OSHA nearly four years to issue a standard after receiving the negotiated rulemaking committee's proposal. Many on the steel erection negotiated rulemaking advisory committee charged the final product bore little resemblance to the proposal they worked long and hard to achieve.

Henshaw has made it clear he wants things to be different this time.

"In my mind a significant part of the process is we take the final product and get it done, and not wait several years before we take action," Henshaw said at the most recent ACCSH meeting. "The steel erection rule is, I think, an example of what can happen if we don't take appropriate action."

In addition, CDNRAC itself is on an accelerated schedule, with plans to meet once a month and to complete its work next year.

"I think it's a great idea to meet once a month, as it maintains momentum," commented one observer, Graham Brent, executive director of the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. "We're excited: I think the right people are here there is a wealth of expertise around this table. If these guys can't get it done, no one can."

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