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Crane and boom safety

Cranes and booms are an integral part of many construction sites – they work while the workers do their daily tasks and the passers-by continue on their way. While they are a familiar sight and normally do not pose a safety hazard when used correctly, accidents can and do occur.

One such accident occurred in February 2016, which made national headlines when a crane collapsed, killing one person and injuring three others in New York City. According to the New York Times, months later, the crane operator was blamed for the accident in which “the boom of the crane was lowered at the wrong angle, making the crane unstable”.

To reduce the frequency of tragic accidents such as this one related to the use of cranes, booms, and drilling rigs, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) proposed changes to clarify an employer’s ongoing duty to assess the skills of its operators and to permanently upgrade assigned equipment safe to operate. The history of these changes began in August 2010 when OSHA issued the final Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard (29 CFR 1926, Subpart CC). This standard required that crane operators must be “certified” or “qualified” depending on the rated lifting capacity of the crane. After a series of delays, the scheme came into full effect on April 15 this year.

The original intent of the changes was to further clarify OSHA’s position that an employee or contractor is only qualified to operate a particular device if they are certified for that type and capacity of devices. OSHA took a tripartite approach to revising the standard. First of all, the “duty of every employer to ensure the competence of crane operators through training, certification or licensing and assessment” was clarified. Second, they expanded a provision that required different levels of certification based on the rated lifting capacity of devices. Third, they set the operator proficiency standard. If an employer fails to implement these changes, an OSHA inspector can blame the company for the violation.

Over the years OSHA has made great strides in providing more user-friendly explanations of the rules through its website. Even so, some confusion remains. OSHA sets its regulations based on industry classifications. OSHA (29 CFR 1910) deals with “general industry” (e.g. four-walled factories, warehouses, etc.) while 29 CFR 1926 covers construction.

So which standard applies to companies such as half-timbered manufacturers or building materials dealers? The short answer is maybe all.

Unless these are near water or docks, field operations are usually covered by the building standard. The standards for cranes and derricks in various industries can be found at Here you will find a language related to training, certification and licensing of crane operators as well as competence.

The new changes to the OSHA standard include in particular:

• Instructions for powered equipment used in construction work where a suspended load can be raised, lowered and moved horizontally.

• General operator requirements, including training and certification.

• The exceptions have been updated to include operators of derricks, jib cranes, or equipment with a manufacturer-specified maximum lifting / lifting capacity of 2,000 lbs.

So what are the main points of the changes in the supply of materials – the ones that will affect timber and building materials dealers? The main change is that truck boom / crane operators must be certified unless they are laying or piling material on the ground. When transferring material to a structure, the crane must also:

• They must be equipped with a fork or cradle assembly and a properly functioning automatic overload protection device.

• With a few exceptions, can only be used for reloading sheet metal or packaged goods.

• Not to be used to hold, support or stabilize the material in a way that facilitates construction.

In addition to the OSHA guidelines, employers can use private sector best practices published by the American National Standards Institute and the American Society of Safety Professionals (ANSI / ASSP Z490.1, ANSI / ASSP A10.28, and ANSI / ASSP A10.31) can be consulted).

With these standards, OSHA aims to create a safe environment and prevent injuries during construction. If crane or boom operators are not certified or qualified, a timber and building materials dealer can be cited for non-compliance. Therefore, it is important that boom and crane operators only deliver materials and not use their equipment to move the materials from the drop-off point to another location on the job site.

Finally, PLM offers resources on a variety of security topics at For more information, please contact Jeff Hendershot, one of PLM’s Loss Control Managers at or 267-403-0875, or Dan Braiman at or 267-825‑9402.