Not long after federal OSHA adopted its Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard, some employers who used digger derricks challenged parts of the rule regarding certification and training for digger derrick operators.
The result was a settlement agreement between the Edison Electric Institute and OSHA in which federal OSHA agreed that it would not enforce the standard for digger derrick operations covered by Subpart V, Power Transmission and Distribution. Essentially, the agreement meant that digger derrick operators would not have to be qualified or certified in accordance with Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard while doing Subpart V (construction) work.
After the settlement agreement was announced, the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers asked Oregon OSHA to explore the idea of developing training options not only for digger derrick operators but also operators of small mobile cranes that have a lifting capacity or more than one ton but less than 20 tons.
Other employers who used small-capacity mobile cranes, including city and county representatives, water districts, sign companies, and companies that deliver materials to construction sites, also asked Oregon OSHA to consider training options for their mobile crane operators.
In 2012, Oregon OSHA put together an advisory group, which included employers who use small-capacity mobile cranes for construction and maintenance activities, to consider developing an alternative operator training rule.
In the meantime, some advisory group members began using programs such as the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) to certify their operators who use small-capacity mobile cranes. However, they reported that even their experienced operators were having difficulty passing the practical tests.
The consensus among the advisory group members was that the cranes used for certification at the NCCCO regional training locations were not the types of cranes that their employees used on a daily basis. For example, while most of their employees operated smaller mobile cranes, the practical tests given at the regional training location were on larger - up to 50-ton capacity - cranes.
As a result, Oregon OSHA agreed to develop an alternative operator training qualification that would allow operators of small mobile cranes to be tested and trained on the type of crane they typically use.
The proposed general-industry rule - 437-002-0231, Crane Operator Safety Training Requirements - would give construction employers with mobile crews who use small-capacity mobile cranes the option of following operator training requirements in 437-002-0231 or the requirements in the construction rule, 1926.1427. The rule would require operators who use small capacity mobile cranes for maintenance, delivery, and other general industry work to comply with 437-002-0231 or 1926.1427 while using the same crane when they crossover from general industry to a construction-related activity.