Crane Rulemaking Committee Approves Ground Rules

Agreement on procedural matters and progress on substantive issues marked the second series of monthly meetings by OSHA's Crane and Derrick Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (C-DAC). The committee is meeting Sept. 3-5 in Washington, D.C.

The 23-member committee approved on Sept. 4 ground rules that define consensus as "no dissent by more than two non-federal C-DAC members."

After some discussion, members agreed OSHA should retain its power to veto any provision it does not accept. However, according to facilitator-chair Susan Podziba, C-DAC added a sentence to the draft of the ground rules stating that in the event OSHA is the sole dissenter, the agency will publish in the preamble to the proposed rule the text of the disputed provision. The public would then have the opportunity to comment on the issue.

On substantive issues, the committee addressed:

  • Assembly and disassembly of cranes;
  • The scope of the standard;
  • Qualifications of signal persons.

C-DAC members discussed training requirements for operators and workers responsible for assembling and disassembling cranes, as they struggled to come up with language appropriate for a variety of real-world scenarios.

Noting the complexity of today's cranes, Joseph Collins, the equipment operation crane supervisor at Zachry Construction Co., thought the person in charge should review the manufacturer's instructions prior to every assembly or disassembly operation. Other committee members disagreed, noting that some crews do nothing but assemble and disassemble cranes, and that some operations are routine.

The committee appeared to reach consensus that the standard should require that "a competent person must have reviewed and understood the manufacturer's procedures for assembling or disassembling the crane." In addition, workers must be made aware of the hazards involved in the operation.

Asked by OSHA representative Noah Connell if the rule should ever require the use of signal persons, most committee members replied in the negative.

Collins appeared to speak for many when he said, "My concern is that when you do need a signal person that person be properly trained."

William Smith, of Maxim Crane Works, agreed. "The problem is we're working with incompetent signal persons," he asserted.

Establishing criteria for safe signaling operations is expected to occupy C-DAC for much of the remainder of its September meeting. The committee is trying to complete its work by July 31, 2004 and until then is expected to meet at least once a month.

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