In November 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published its final rule on "Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Operator Qualifications" (29 CFR 1926.1427(f)(6)). In sum, the new rule requires employers to document their evaluations of their crane and derrick operators.
As a way to provide employers with more time to come into compliance with the new rule, OSHA set the effective date as Feb. 7, 2019.
However, last week, after receiving feedback from the construction industry that some employers may need even more time to comply with the new evaluation and documentation requirements, OSHA announced that it plans to provide even more latitude in terms of time to comply with the documentation component.
"While OSHA will be fully enforcing the requirement that employers must evaluate their operators before allowing them to operate cranes independently, this memorandum provides guidance on the enforcement of the documentation requirement."
In specific, until Apr. 15, 2019, "OSHA intends to offer compliance assistance, in lieu of enforcement, for those employers who have evaluated operators in accordance with the final rule, and are making good faith efforts to comply with the new documentation requirement."
The term "good faith" is particularly important. In explaining its time extension, Scott Ketcham, OSHA's acting director of the Directorate of Construction, in a letter to OSHA regional administrators and state plan designees, noted, "If, upon inspection, it is determined that an employer has failed to make sufficient efforts to comply, OSHA should cite for the deficiency."
However, he added, before actually issuing any citations, regional administrators and state plan designees should consult the National Office Directorate of Construction for additional guidance.
As of this point, starting Apr. 15, OSHA will fully enforce all applicable provisions of the final rule.
"By providing compliance guidance through this enforcement memo related to crane operator evaluations, it proves that OSHA is proactive in addressing the concerns of many employers, partnerships and associations who are acting in good faith to comply," said Wes Wheeler, NECA's national director of safety. "The atmosphere of OSHA's compliance assistance to employers, including NECA members and contractors, is encouraging to companies managing their training and safety risk management programs."