OSHA’s Newly Issued Final Rule – Crane Operator Certification Requirements

As of December 10, 2018, OSHA’s newly issued final rule on Crane Operator Certification Requirements will take effect, which means that employers are required to ensure that their operators are certified for the type of crane they will be operating. In brief, OSHA’s standard for cranes and derricks in construction have been updated to clarify employers’ responsibilities to ensure the competency of crane operators through training, certification or licensing and evaluation.

Operator certification is not a new requirement of the final rule; operator certification was required in OSHA’s 2010 cranes rule, but the effective date of that requirement was pushed back to November 10, 2018. The new rule simply removes the requirement that certifications include the lifting capacity of cranes for which the operator is certified, but it does not change the effective date for when operators must be certified.  As published on OSHA’s website, the final rule makes the following changes:

This final rule removes the requirement that crane operator certifications include the crane’s rated lifting capacity. The two testing organizations that have certified the majority of operators have issued certifications by “type” but not “capacity.” These certifications, therefore, would not have been valid without a change to the rule.

OSHA concluded that the capacity requirement for certification is not necessary to protect workers and expressed concern that a shortage of certified operators will have negative impact on the construction industry.

Additionally, OSHA is making permanent the employer duty to ensure that operators are competent to operate the equipment safely. While certification ensures an objective baseline of general knowledge of crane operation, it does not ensure that operators know how to operate a particular crane for a specific task. For this reason, OSHA is revising the crane standard to preserve a requirement that employers assess the ability of their operators to run the cranes they will be using for the tasks to which they are assigned.

The final rule does not change who is covered by the standard.  Operators of small cranes are exempt and do not need to comply with OSHA’s operator certification requirements to use “light duty” cranes to install propane tanks or signs. OSHA does not require certification of operators of cranes with lifting capacities of 2,000 pounds or less.

When it comes to evaluating operators, employers must ensure that each operator is qualified through demonstration of “skills and knowledge, as well as the ability to recognize and avert risk, necessary to operate the equipment safely…”  This evaluation must be performed by an individual who has the knowledge, training, and experience necessary to assess operators.  Businesses should consider using an outside training and safety source like Brauner Safety Services to ensure that the evaluation is comprehensive and covers all areas that meet OSHA’s standards. Evaluations must be documented and readily available on the job site for the term of the operator’s employment.

As previously stated, the final rule will become effective on December 10, 2018, with the exception of the amendments to 29 CFR 1926.1427(a) and (f) Evaluation and Documentation requirements, which will become effective February 7, 2019.  To learn more about how your business can ensure that your crane operators are meeting the requirements and have a safety evaluation performed of your operators and job site, contact Brauner Safety Services.


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