On Aug. 9, 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the long-awaited Crane and Derricks in Construction Final Rule. OSHA estimates the rule will affect approximately 267,000 construction, crane rental and crane certification establishments, employing about 4.8 million workers, and OSHA expects the rule to prevent 22 crane-related fatalities and 175 nonfatal injuries each year. The requirements of this rule became effective Nov. 8, 2010, with a few notable exceptions.

This rule applies to power-operated equipment that can hoist, lower and horizontally move a suspended load with a load-rating capacity of more than 2,000 pounds when used in construction, such as articulating cranes (e.g., knuckle-boom cranes); crawler cranes; mobile cranes, such as wheel-mounted, rough-terrain, all-terrain, commercial truck-mounted, and boom truck cranes; and multipurpose machines when configured to hoist and lower (by means of a winch or hook).

Operator qualification certification
Qualification and certification 1926.1427 of an operator is the most notably delayed component of the final rule. Employers have until Nov. 8, 2014, to qualify and certify operators.
There are four options for certification requirements to be considered valid:

• Option 1: Nationally recognized accrediting agency that administers written and practical tests, with specific curriculum criteria outlined in the rule; it is valid for five years.
• Option 2: Audited employer program developed by an accredited crane operator testing organization and audited within three months of beginning the program and at least every three years thereafter
• Option 3: U.S. military (only for workers who are employed by the U.S. military); this certification is not portable and is only valid for the period stipulated by the issuing entity.
• Option 4: Government-accredited crane operator testing organization

A qualified person, according to rule 1926.1401, is one who, by possession of recognized degree, certificate or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, successfully demonstrates the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work or project.

Employers will now need to ensure that signal people are qualified through a third-party or employer option. A qualified signal person will need to be used when the point of operation is not in full view, the operator’s view is obstructed in the direction it is expected to travel, or either the operator or the person handling the load determines that a signal person is required based on site-specific conditions.
Employers must use qualified riggers when engaging in hoisting activities of assembly or disassembly work. A qualified rigger is expected to have the ability to properly rig the load for the specific task. However, there is no certification requirement for qualified rigger. Qualified riggers are required when workers are expected to be in the fall zone, when hooking and unhooking, when guiding the load, or when in the initial connection of a load component or structure.

Power line safety
Before commencing work, the employer must determine if assembly or disassembly operations will get closer than 20 feet to power lines. If so, the employer must either de-energize and ground and verify it with the utility owner and operator or ensure that no part of the equipment, load line or load gets closer than 20 feet. Prevention of encroachment must be met.
Power line safety equipment operations

Crane operation requires a hazard assessment and precautions to be followed inside the work zone, which is an area of 360 degrees around the equipment. This zone also must be considered the equipment’s maximum radius.

Utility workers working near power lines is still addressed under 1910.269 or 1926 Subpart V when performing work necessarily within the minimum approach distance (MAD). That exclusion does not apply when crews are doing new construction in an existing substation. Work being performed on the poles, structures or power lines are regulated under Subpart CC. The final rule establishes a trigger distance of 20 feet at 350 kilovolts (kV) and a trigger distance of 50 feet above 350 kV. New distances rules are required for workers’ safety, including a mandate for an electronic approach warning, encroachment alarms, visible barricades or a dedicated spotter [1926.1407(b)(3)] whose sole responsibility is to observe for clearances.

Digger derricks are exempt from the rule when used for augering holes for poles designated to carry electric and telecommunication lines, placing and removing the poles, and for handling associated material to be installed or removed from the poles. This exception poses some unique circumstances, since equipment can move in and out of compliance, based on the task being performed. Derrick-operator qualification and certification requirements must be met under the four options when the equipment is used outside the scope of the detailed exemption.

RIVERA is NECA’s director of safety. Reach him at jr@necanet.org.