The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a final rule that will extend the deadline for crane operators to be tested and certified by three years. Based on this rule, crane operators will now have until November 10, 2017 to obtain a valid certification. Those operators without a valid certification as of that date will not be able to run a crane at a construction site anywhere in the United States. Originally, operators had until November 10 of this year to obtain their certification, but industry groups pushed back on the original rule and received the extension.
After its original February 10, 2014 proposal to extend the deadline, OSHA received more than 60 comments. Some experts were concerned about language and the rule that would’ve required tests to be organized based on the type and capacity of the crane. Others question whether passing a standardized test was sufficient for employers to determine the competency of the operator. According to some commenters, however, such decisions should be left to employers.
A number of experts questioned the validity of existing certifications. OSHA investigated and concluded that, of the four nationally accredited examiners, two were not in compliance with existing rules. This is based on the fact that they only tested to the type of crane and not capacity. Because of this, OSHA realized that fewer than 15 percent of current crane operators are certified properly in compliance with the current rule, which require certification to type and capacity, so they extended the deadline. During the delay, the agency says it will conduct a more thorough examination of its crane operator testing requirements and decide whether or not to draft a new rule. It will also use the time to encourage the other 85 percent of crane operators to be tested and certified based on the new requirements.