The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency within the United States Department of Labor (DOL) tasked with establishing and enforcing policies that maintain employee health and safety in the workplace. Although OSHA is responsible for overseeing all industries nationwide, the inherently dangerous nature of the construction industry makes it one of the most commonly targeted sectors. OSHA inspectors regularly visit project sites to ensure that all OSHA rules and regulations are being followed. When it comes to the operation of heavy machinery, like cranes and derricks, the agency refuses to cut any corners due to the high potential for drivers to harm themselves or others.
In this editorial, the OSHA defense attorneys at Cotney Construction Law will detail OSHA’s rules and regulations regarding cranes and derricks. From an examination of key hazards to a break down of the final rule, this article will cover everything contractors need to know about crane and derrick safety. And for all the things contractors don’t know about OSHA compliance, consult an OSHA defense attorney with years of experience fighting for the construction industry against OSHA, owners, and everything in-between.
Examining the Types of Equipment Covered by §1926.1400
- 1926.1400 applies to “power-operated equipment, when used in construction, that can hoist, lower and horizontally move a suspended load.” This includes articulating cranes, crawler cranes, floating cranes, cranes on barges, locomotive cranes, mobile cranes, multi-purpose machines that hoist and lower, industrial cranes, dedicated pile drivers, service trucks outfitted with a hoisting device, monorail cranes, tower cranes, pedestal cranes, portal cranes, overhead and gantry cranes, straddle cranes, sideboom cranes, derricks, and their qualifying variants. This standard also applies to cranes and derricks that are utilized for underground construction work and demolition. Failure to observe this standard when operating any of the above equipment could result in an OSHA citation. If you receive an OSHA citation, contact an OSHA attorney.
Who Is Affected by This Standard?
Any contractor who employs the use of cranes and derricks on their construction projects must abide by OSHA’s rules and regulations. As an employer, you are responsible for mitigating hazards associated with these machines by educating your workforce about these requirements and enforcing safe practices on the project site. If an employee acts in defiance of OSHA’s rules and regulations, the violation falls on the shoulders of the employer, not the employee.
Keep in mind that contractors are responsible for verifying that these machines are deployed on safe ground that allows the operator to assemble any components as needed. Additionally, they are tasked with consulting utility owners or operators before employees are permitted to work near power lines. A qualified person must be assigned to inspect equipment and perform annual inspections. Another important duty of the contractor is to ensure that signal persons are qualified according to §1926.1428. The same is true for crane operators (§1926.1427).
Although twenty-eight states and territories have employed OSHA-approved state plans to cover employees in the private and public sector, they are still required to adopt OSHA’s standards for the safe operation of cranes and derricks.
Changes Resulting from the Final Rule
OSHA’s old set of rules regarding cranes and derricks was issued in 1971. In 2010, the final rule was established, updating the old rule to account for changes in building practices, new technology, and more. One of the main goals of the final rule was to address key hazards like electrocution, crushed by parts of the equipment, struck-by the equipment or load, and falls. When the revised standard was first introduced, it was expected to decrease the number of annual fatalities and non-fatal injuries by 22 and 175, respectively. Some of the major changes included:
- Inspecting tower crane parts before erection
- Utilizing synthetic slings during assembly and disassembly
- Assessing ground conditions
- Implementing new qualifications for crane operators
- Administering new guidelines for working in close proximity to power lines
- Complying with local and state licensing requirements for crane operators
- Resolving the issue of uncertified operators by paying out of pocket for their certification
- Expanding the written certification test to include all languages
To ensure that all relevant equipment remains in safe operating condition, contractors should have a qualified worker perform the following inspections:
- Inspecting all equipment prior to each shift
- Additional monthly and annual inspections for all equipment
- Inspecting wire rope each shift, as well as monthly and annually
- Post-assembly inspections
- Pre-erection inspections for tower cranes
- Inspecting modified, repaired, or adjusted equipment before use
- Inspecting internal vessel or flotation devices every four years to ensure that floating cranes and derricks are safe
At 273 pages in length, we’ve only scratched the surface of 29 CFR Part 1926, “Cranes and Derricks in Construction – Final Rule,” in this article. Therefore, to ensure that you are compliant with all relevant OSHA rules and regulations governing crane and derrick safety, consult an OSHA lawyer.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.