OSHA Gets Clear on Crane Rule

OSHA Gets Clear on Crane Rule iReportSource blog

OSHA’s final—really, the final—ruling for crane training, certification, and evaluation took effect last month.

Some OSHA regulations may come with a bit of panic at times…but this highly awaited update was more about clarifications for companies with crane operators. From dates to be aware of to next steps you need to take, here’s a recap of what you should know:

Part of the Previous Confusion

Back in 2010, OSHA removed language in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard that said that crane operator certification was to be based on both equipment “type and capacity.”

The debate was, in part, over how changes to the capacity requirement would also result in a great deal of training/certification changes for companies. More specifically, the verbiage would mean many companies would need to undergo additional training and certification.

The argument was that those changes to operator certification training and testing would not necessarily bring any major safety benefits with it, however.

As you may know, in February of 2014, OSHA decided to implement another three-year extension to the operator certification deadline. That deadline eventually was delayed again until November 2017 when the agency issued this final standard update.

This came after a thorough analysis. OSHA reported that: “…Based on this record and the continued employer duty to evaluate operators, which provides an additional means for ensuring that the operator can safely use equipment for the range of tasks assigned, OSHA has determined that employee certification by capacity of crane should no longer be required; rather, it may be an option for those employers who wish to use it…” (2)

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The Takeaway For the New Crane Operator Requirements

In this “final” update, OSHA clarified that an operator is qualified to operate a certain piece of equipment only if the operator is certified for that type and capacity of equipment or is certified for higher-capacity equipment of that same type.

With OSHA establishing how crane operator certification and licensing must be accomplished, they also continued to share the specifics on how that should happen. As established prior, that certification needs to happen through an accredited testing service such as:

  • An audited employer program;
  • Military training;
  • Or compliance.

Next Steps Based on the New Final Rule

Specific to making sure each operator is trained, certified or licensed, and evaluated, in summary, you must:

1. Know your specific training requirements. Be sure to re-train each operator based on the performance of the operator, or based on an evaluation of the operator’s knowledge, if there is an indication that re-training is necessary. In general, the knowledge and skills OSHA has identified as critical to safe crane operation can be found in paragraphs 1926.1427(j)(1) and (2).

2. Keep up with your operator’s certification or license, including paying for it. OSHA says, again in paragraphs 1926.1427(j)(1) and (2), what it considers as essential knowledge and skills your operator’s must have. This re-certification must happen every 5 years (2).

3. Document the completion of the operator evaluation and keep that record as long as that worker is with your company. Effective February 7, 2019, you have to conduct an evaluation of each operator to ensure he is qualified in his position. This is evident by a demonstration of skills and knowledge necessary to operate the equipment safely. Second, this is established if and when he also has the ability to recognize and avert risks associated with the operation (1, 2). OSHA wants to be sure you not only document that information, but that you maintain the evaluation as long as that is an active employee (1, 2).

OSHA’s Rewording Clarifies What Companies Need to Know 

All in all, the rewording of the certification requirement gives a great deal of clarity to business owners and safety leaders. The key dates to be aware of related to this regulation include:

November 10, 2018. The Final Rule of 2010 officially went into effect on this date, meaning that crane operators must be certified by type only or type and capacity.

December 10, 2018. The new Final Rule went into effect on this date. That meant the latest changes, incorporated into the other “Final” Rule, took place then.

February 7, 2019. This is the date where amendments to the rule (evaluation and documentation requirements) go into effect (1, 2).

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Want to get more information about the new Final Rule? Here is the link to OSHA’s published new Final Rule. Refer to OSHA for your specific guidelines.


  1. https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/the-new-final-rule-regarding-crane-95269/
  2. https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/federalregister/2018-11-09

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