|OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
June 28, 2011
Walter W. Wise, General President
International Association of Bridge, Structural,
Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers
1750 New York Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20006
Dear Mr. Wise:
Thank you for your December 23, 2010 letter inquiring about the signal person qualification and documentation requirements in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard. I apologize for the delay in responding to your questions.
You describe specific aspects of the Ironworker Apprenticeship Certification Program (IACP) and the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) program for establishing the qualifications of crane signal persons, which is operated by the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers (Association) and the Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT). You also pose several questions, each asking whether a component of that program meets the relevant requirements set forth in 29 CFR Subpart CC, Cranes and Derricks in Construction. OSHA has paraphrased your questions and responded below.
Question #1: Do the IACP and JTAC qualify as third party qualified evaluators for purposes of evaluating signal person qualifications in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.1428(a)(1)?
Answer: OSHA defines a "qualified evaluator (third party)" in 29 CFR 1926.1401
as an entity that, due to its independence and expertise, has demonstrated that it is competent in accurately assessing whether individuals meet the Qualification Requirements in this subpart for a signal person.
OSHA requires each employer of a signal person to use a qualified evaluator (a third party or an employee) to verify that the signal person possesses a minimum set of knowledge and skills [29 CFR 1926.1428(a)]. In general, OSHA does not evaluate or endorse specific products or programs, and therefore makes no determination as to whether either program meets the definition of a "qualified evaluator (third party)." It should be noted, however, that in the preamble to the final subpart CC rule, OSHA stated that "labor-management joint apprenticeship training programs that train and assess signal persons would typically meet the definition for a third-party qualified evaluator....." 75 Federal Register 48029, (August 9, 2010). Ultimately, the employer is responsible for assuring that its employees are adequately trained regardless of whether the employees' qualification is assessed by the employer or a third party. See 29 CFR 1926.1428(b) and 1926.1430(b).
Questions #2: Does a JTAC-issued certification card satisfy the requirement for documentation of training for a qualified signal person if the card certifies that the holder has successfully completed testing on the listed specific categories of signals (voice, hand, radio, etc.)?
Answer: Certification cards issued by a third party qualified evaluator or the employer's qualified evaluator would be satisfactory documentation of a signal person's qualification under 1926.1428 provided that the cards specify each type of signaling for which the signal person is qualified, and denote that the card bearer:
- knows and understands the type of signal used at the work site;
- is competent in the application of the type of signal used at the work site;
- has a basic understanding of the equipment operation and limitations, including the crane dynamics involved in swinging and stopping loads and boom deflection from hoisting loads;
- knows and understands the relevant requirements of 1926.1419 through 1926.1422 and 1926.1428; and
- has demonstrated his/her knowledge of the requirements of items (1) through (4) above through an oral or written test, and through a practical test.
Questions #3: Can an employee's or employer's possession of such a card at the worksite satisfy the 1926.1428(a)(3) requirement that such documentation be "available at the site while the signal person is employed by the employer?"
Answer: Yes. As noted in the preamble to the final rule, the 1926.1928(a)(3) requirement was included in the final rule because OSHA and the C-DAC committee felt that "it is important for employers to make the documentation of signal person qualifications readily available to employees and others who need to rely on those qualifications, such as crane operators who rely on signal persons provided by a different employer, or OSHA for compliance purposes" (75 Federal Register 48029). In practical terms, this availability requirement means that if a crane operator or that operator's employer, an OSHA compliance officer, or another person who needs to verify the qualifications of the signal person requests to see the documentation, the employer must produce it immediately. So long as the card qualifies as documentation of training in accordance with the answer to Question 2, and is on the person of the signal person, in a location where it can be retrieved immediately, or immediately available electronically to present to the requestor, the card would satisfy the availability requirement of 1926.1428(a)(3).
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with safety and health standards promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. However, this interpretation is not itself a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020.
James G. Maddux, Director
Directorate of Construction