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OSHA Proposes Changes in Standards for Cranes and Derricks

OSHA is proposing to update its standard for cranes and derricks in construction by permanently extending and clarifying each employer's duty to ensure the competency of crane operators through required training, certification or licensing, and evaluation.

OSHA is also proposing to remove an existing provision that requires different levels of certification based on rated lifting capacity of equipment. This proposal would clarify that while testing organizations are not required to issue certifications distinguished by rated capacities, they are permitted to do so. Finally, it would establish minimum requirements for determining operator competency.

This is important to ISRI members because there is still confusion among some state and federal compliance inspectors concerning the requirements for training and certification of material handler operators at scrap recycling operations. Members need to respectfully educate regulatory personnel, if needed, when a question of “crane operator certification” arises that the training and certification requirement for crane operations are not required for material handler operations at scrap yards for the following reasons:

  1. A crane is a power-operated hoisting machine that has a power-operated winch, load line and boom moving laterally by the rotation of the machine on a carrier or base which has a manufacturer’s rated maximum lifting capacity of 15 tons or more as specified in ASME Volumes B 30.3 and B 30.5, and any successor volumes.

  2. While our industry has traditionally referred to the material handlers (CAT, Sennebogen, Liebherr, etc.) as cranes these are NOT cranes and are not machines that are regulated in the federal OSHA construction standards (29 CFR 1926) or federal OSHA general industry standards (29 CFR 1910).

  3. Additionally, the OSHA general industry standards, define a crane as: “a machine for lifting and lowering a load and moving it horizontally, with the hoisting mechanism an integral part of the machine. Cranes whether fixed or mobile are driven manually or by power.” In the case of our “material handlers” or “excavators,” the hoisting mechanism is NOT an integral part of the machine. We are using the boom or stick itself to lift the material. If there was a drum and associated cable that ran along the boom, used for lifting, that WOULD be integral.

However, ISRI members also know the importance of the safe operation of facility material handlers as they pose a wide range of risks during normal operation, not only to the operators, but also to maintenance personnel and others nearby. Consequently, whether required by OSHA or not, it is important that operators of material handlers be trained on the safe operation of their equipment. ISRI provides material handler safety training materials on its website as well as a Material Handler Train the Trainer class.

For additional information on the above contact Tony Smith or Elnaz Torabian.

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