On August 9, 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published the final rule regarding the use of all cranes including National Crane trucks and derricks in the construction industry (29 CFR 1926, subpart CC). The United States Department of Labor replaced the old rule because of the increase in accidents associated with the operation of cranes and the latest breakthroughs in the designs of these vehicles. The newly established rule addresses the hazards that are commonly encountered while using cranes and derricks on construction sites. It also addresses the four causes of injuries and death to workers: being crushed or struck by the equipment; electrocution; and falling. It is vital that operators of this equipment learn and understand these new rules.
Important Factors Included in the New Rules
There are some factors that need to be learned and addressed by both employer and workers regarding these new OSHA rules.
- Ground Support – The employer must ensure that the ground is able to support the weight of the crane and its load. The ground should be assessed for firmness, slope and compactness. The crane must be positioned on a firm, solid and compact surface to efficiently support the weight of the machine. In addition, operators must assess and identify hazards at the location of the equipment and document their findings.
- Hydraulic Outriggers – If there is a necessity to utilize outriggers, it should be fully extended or as otherwise specified by the manufacturer. Operators and signal persons should be able to clearly see the hydraulic outrigger during setting. It is recommended that operators follow the directions in the manufacturer’s manual when using hydraulic stabilizers.
- Working near Power Lines – When working near power lines, operators should mark the boundaries of the work zone using flags and avoid using the equipment beyond the boundaries. The work zone should be 20 feet away from power lines and no equipment parts should go beyond the specified clearance. If crane operators have difficulty seeing the marked boundaries during operation, a spotter can be used. Additionally, crane operators must assume that all power lines are live except when the energy provider specifically states that the power lines are de-energized and properly grounded.
- Inspection – A qualified person should inspect the crane before or during each shift. The inspection should focus on the hoisting rope for corrosion, twisting, kinking, core failure, and crushing. Selecting replacement wire ropes should be done based on the specifications of the manufacturer or other qualified person.
- Required Safety Devices – These machines are required to have the following devices: crane level indicators, boom stops, jib stops, pedal brake locks, integral holding devices for hydraulic outriggers and stabilizers, and horns. If any of these devices are not working properly, the operation should be delayed until each device is working properly. In the event that the safety device stops in the middle of the operation, the operator must immediately stop the operation and remove the equipment from service.
- Operator Qualification and Certification – It is stated in the new rules that employers must ascertain that crane operators are licensed by a government licensing office and be certified by nationally recognized crane testing organizations. Crane drivers are only qualified to operate cranes if they are certified by the proper accrediting agency.
OSHA revised the standards and related section of the rules to enhance and modify the correct working practices in order to safeguard employees while using these machines on work sites. The final rule emphasizes that employees should be qualified and have training regarding the safe handling of cranes and hazard identification. It is vital that operators be certified through training. When using a National crane truck, operators must always abide by the guidelines set forth by OSHA because understanding these new rules is essential in order to protect both the employer and the employees during the operation of this equipment!