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Crane Operator Certification Requirements

FAQs for Construction Cranes Operator Certification, Operator Qualification and Certification by Type and Capacity

OSHA announced that it will propose changes to its construction crane standard, subpart CC — Cranes and Derricks, that extend the deadline for crane operator certification by 3 years, to November 10, 2017. The proposal will also preserve the employer's duty for interim operator assessment requirements for that extended period. The following are questions and answers that discuss this proposal and its potential effects on the construction industry.

Question #1:  If OSHA extends the enforcement date for crane operator certification, would OSHA require a crane operator to be certified or recertified before November 10, 2017?

Answer: No, unless the operator is in a state or local jurisdiction with qualifying operator certification or licensing requirements.

Question #2:  What is an employer's obligation with respect to its operators right now?

Answer: Until November 10, 2014, OSHA requires that:

  • the employer must ensure that operators of cranes covered by the standard are competent to safely operate the equipment;
  • when an employee assigned to operate machinery does not have the required knowledge or ability to operate the equipment safely, the employer must train that employee prior to operating the equipment and ensure that each operator is evaluated to confirm that he/she understands the information provided in the training.

Question #3:  Does OSHA intend to extend these employer obligations as well?

Answer: Yes, OSHA intends to propose extending the current employer duties (from Question #2) for 3 years as well.

Question #4:  Why is OSHA proposing to extend the enforcement date for crane operator certification?

Answer: OSHA is proposing to extend the enforcement date for two reasons. First, Subpart CC-Cranes and Derricks requires that operator certification be by "type and capacity." The two largest testing organizations have issued certifications by "type," but not "capacity." These certifications would not be valid under Subpart CC. The Agency is concerned that the large number of operators with invalid (for OSHA purposes) certifications, and the relatively short amount of time to obtain valid ones, may result in a disruption in the construction industry, both for employers and for crane operators who thought their certification would be valid.

Second, after Subpart CC was published and the issue of "type and capacity" generated responses from the crane industry, many in the crane industry began to tell the Agency that operator certification alone did not provide sufficient demonstration or guarantee of competence to safely operate cranes. This view was clearly expressed at the stakeholder meetings OSHA held on this issue in April 2013. (The stakeholder meeting notes are available online at http://www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/stakeholders.html).

During these meetings, several construction industry representatives stated that it was necessary for employers to make sure their operators are "qualified" by assessing the ability of their operators to run cranes safely at the worksite In addition, some asked that OSHA allow certifications based only on the type of crane, while others said that crane capacity was important, but urged OSHA to consider measuring capacity by factors in addition to the maximum lift capacity of a crane.

Question #5:  If a crane operator's certification only specifies type, but not capacity, would the operator have to get another certification by November 10, 2014, that meets OSHA requirements?

Answer: No, unless operating in a state or local jurisdiction with qualifying operator certification or licensing requirements that include capacity. OSHA is proposing to extend the effective dates for its general operator-certification requirements to November 10, 2017, but OSHA is not proposing to change the requirement that crane operators must be certified or licensed to operate cranes in accordance with qualifying state or local requirements. That requirement has already been in effect since November 2010.