New OSHA Rule on Crane Operator Certification Requirements

November 12, 2018
OSHA published a final rule that clarifies certification requirements for crane operators, and maintains the employer’s duty to ensure that crane operators can safely operate the equipment. The final rule will maintain safety and health protections for workers while reducing compliance burdens.
Under the final rule, employers are required to train operators as needed to perform assigned crane activities, evaluate them, and document successful completion of the evaluations. Employers who have evaluated operators prior to December 9, 2018, will not have to conduct those evaluations again, but will only have to document when those evaluations were completed.
The rule also requires crane operators to be certified or licensed, and receive ongoing training as necessary to operate new equipment. Operators can be certified based on the crane’s type and capacity, or type only, which ensures that more accredited testing organizations are eligible to meet OSHA’s certification program requirements. The final rule revises a 2010 requirement that crane operator certification must specify the rated lifting capacity of cranes for which the operator is certified. Compliant certifications that were already issued by type and capacity are still acceptable under this final rule.
The final rule, with the exception of the evaluation and documentation requirements, will become effective on Dec. 9, 2018. The evaluation and documentation requirements will become effective on February 7, 2019.
OSHA has issued guidance on how to comply with crane operator certification requirements until the new final rule becomes effective.
Job Openings at Environmental Resource Center
We’re looking for new team members with hands-on environmental and safety experience. The successful candidate would have at least four years EHS experience at a manufacturing, consulting, or government facility in a position implementing safety and environmental regulations or at a government agency that enforces the regulations.  Job functions will include providing consulting services and audits, as well as training program development and presentation.  Excellent writing and public speaking skills are required.  Frequent air travel. Profit sharing, 401K, and other great benefits. 
We also have an opening for an EHS associate.  This position requires at least two years experience in the implementation of EHS regulations together with excellent writing and editing skills.
If you’d like to join a growing company that’s known for its quality, ethics, and expertise, send your resume to
Black & Decker Recalls Hammer Drills Due to Injury Hazard
Black & Decker has recalled over 600,000 Black & Decker, Bostitch and Porter-Cable Hammer Drills and Drill Drivers.  The side handle sold with the drill can slip or break, leading to a loss of control of the tool, posing an injury hazard.
Model numbers recalled are:
Porter-Cable ½ Inch VSR 2-Speed Hammer Drill - PC70THD
Black & Decker ½ Inch Drill/Driver - DR560
Bostitch ½ Inch Hammer Drill - BTE140 and BTE141
If you have one of these drills, stop using it and contact Black & Decker for a replacement. Call 888-284-3070 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, email or go online at click Safety Notices and Recalls, click Safety Recalls, or click Safety Recalls for more information.
California Employers Must Electronically Submit Form 300A on Occupational Injuries and Illnesses
Cal/OSHA issued an emergency regulation requiring certain employers in California to electronically submit each year their Form 300A summaries of work-related injuries and illnesses to federal OSHA have been approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).
The following employers must submit online the Form 300A covering calendar year 2017 by December 31, 2018:
  • All employers with 250 or more employees, unless specifically exempted by section 14300.2 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.
  • Employers with 20 to 249 employees in the specific industries listed in Appendix H of the emergency regulations.
Employers described above that are now required to submit their 300A summaries online each year should follow the instructions on federal OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application webpage. Cal/OSHA will proceed with the formal rulemaking process to make the emergency regulations permanent by submitting the required documentation to OAL. The rulemaking process will include a public comment period and public hearing. The dates for the comment period and public hearing will be posted on Cal/OSHA’s proposed regulation page.
Court Affirms Fall Protection Safety Order for Elevated Telecommunications Structures
The Alameda County, California Superior Court recently affirmed that fall protection safety orders apply to elevated indoor telecommunication structures. Cal/OSHA citations issued after an employee suffered serious head injuries from a 7- foot fall from a telecommunications structure were appealed by the employer. Pinnacle Telecommunications, Inc. asserted that the safety order was too vague and did not apply.
The Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board (OSHAB) upheld the citations and the employer subsequently filed a petition in Alameda County Superior Court. The court’s ruling affirmed the appeals board’s decision that indoor suspended structures supporting telephone equipment and cables require proper fall protection, such as with work done on outdoor telecommunication poles or towers.
In January 2014, a telephone line worker employed by Pinnacle Telecommunications, Inc., was installing telecommunications switchgears at a sub- station in Albany. He was standing on a metal structure less than 20 inches wide suspended from the ceiling and was seriously injured after a 7-foot fall from the structure.
Cal/OSHA’s inspection determined the employer did not:
  • Provide training on when to use fall protection equipment
  • Require workers to use personal fall protection devices or other fall protections methods such as guardrails or safety nets when working on elevated structures more than four feet above the ground
The division issued Pinnacle Telecommunications $25,560 in proposed penalties for a serious category citation as Pinnacle failed to ensure the use of fall protection equipment and a general category citation for not providing required training.
Pinnacle appealed, asserting the safety order cited did not apply because the structure on which employees were working is not covered by the regulation and the safety order is unconstitutionally vague. OSHAB affirmed the citations on September 22, 2017, and the employer filed a petition in Alameda County Superior Court on October 20, 2017.
Superior Court Judge Kimberly E. Colwell on August 21 denied the employer’s petition, upholding OSHAB’s finding that the safety order was clear and appropriately applied to the structure from which the employee fell.
CSB Releases “Call to Action” on Combustible Dust Hazards
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, as part of its investigation into the May 2017 Didion Mill explosion, issued “Call to Action: Combustible Dust” to gather comments on the management and control of combustible dust from companies, regulators, inspectors, safety training providers, researchers, unions, and the workers affected by dust-related hazards.
“Our dust investigations have identified the understanding of dust hazards and the ability to determine a safe dust level in the work place as common challenges,” said CSB Interim Executive Kristen Kulinowski. “While there is a shared understanding of the hazards of dust, our investigations have found that efforts to manage those hazards have often failed to prevent a catastrophic explosion. To uncover why that is, we are initiating this Call to Action to gather insights and feedback from those most directly involved with combustible dust hazards.”
This initiative asks for information from all individuals and entities involved in the safe conduct of work within inherently dust-producing environments at risk for dust explosions. The agency seeks input on a variety of complex issues, including: recognizing and measuring “unsafe” levels of dust in the workplace, managing responsibilities and expectations that sometimes are at odds with each other (e.g., performing mechanical integrity preventative maintenance while simultaneously striving to minimize dust releases in the work environment), and the methods for communicating the low-frequency but high-consequence hazards of combustible dust in actionable terms for those working and overseeing these environments. A full list of questions can be found here.
Comments can be emailed to now until November 26, 2018. The CSB will use the information provided to explore new opportunities for safety improvements.
Dust incidents continue to impact a wide swath of industries. In 2006, the CSB identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005. One hundred and nineteen workers were fatally injured, 718 more were hurt, and industrial facilities were extensively damaged. The incidents occurred in 44 states, in many different industries, and involved a variety of different materials.
Since the publication of the study in 2006, the CSB has confirmed an additional 105 combustible dust incidents and conducted in-depth investigations of five, including most recently the Didion Milling dust explosion in Cambria, Wisconsin, that fatally injured five workers and demolished the milling facility.

The CSB has issued four recommendations to OSHA calling for the issuance of a comprehensive general industry standard for combustible dust, and combustible dust safety is on the agency’s Drivers of Critical Chemical Safety Change list. To date, there is no general industry standard.
CSB Investigator Cheryl MacKenzie said, “Our investigation of the Didion incident continues and we are analyzing evidence to understand the specifics leading up to the tragic event. However, this investigation reinforces what we are seeing across many industries—that there needs to be a more inclusive approach to creating and maintaining a safe work environment amid processes that inherently produce dust.”
Two Florida Contractors Cited After Employee Suffers Injuries
OSHA has cited Tom Krips Construction Inc. and Etherna Services Inc. after an employee suffered crushing injuries at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, worksite.
OSHA investigators determined that a lattice boom section of a crane fell onto the employee during disassembly, crushing his foot and ankle. OSHA cited Tom Krips Construction Inc. for failing to follow disassembly procedures established by the manufacturer; allowing employees to work under the boom while removing connecting pins; and not providing training for employees on assembly and disassembly procedures. OSHA cited Etherna Services Inc. for failing to train employees on safely disassembling a boom crane and on the hazards associated with disassembly. Tom Krips Construction Inc. faces $29,877 in penalties, and Etherna Services Inc. penalties total $5,174.
Advisory on Worker Safety for Regions with Wildfire Smoke
Cal/OSHA advised employers that special precautions must be taken to
protect workers from hazards from wildfire smoke.
Smoke from wildfires contains chemicals, gases and fine particles that can harm health. The greatest hazard comes from breathing fine particles in the air, which can reduce lung function, worsen asthma and other existing heart and lung conditions, and cause coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Guidance for employers and workers on working safely in conditions with heavy smoke caused by the wildfires is available on Cal/OSHA’s web page, including information for protecting outdoor workers, details on how to protect indoor workers from outdoor air pollution, and frequently asked questions about N95 masks.
When employees are working outdoors where the air is affected by wildfire smoke, employers are required by Cal/OSHA's standards on Control of Harmful Exposure to Employees and Respiratory Protection to determine if the outdoor air is a "harmful exposure" to employees. Exposure is harmful when the pollution or contaminants in the air cause (or are likely to cause) injury, illness, disease, impairment or loss of function.
Local air quality districts provide information on outdoor air that can assist employers in determining if the outside air is harmful to employees. Employers should pay special attention when the outdoor air quality for airborne particles is "unhealthy," "very unhealthy," or "hazardous." The outdoor air quality is posted at the EPA website
When exposure to wildfire smoke is considered harmful, employers are required to take the following measures to protect workers:
  • Implement feasible modifications to the workplace to reduce exposure. Examples include providing enclosed structures or vehicles for employees to work in, where the air is filtered.
  • Implement practicable changes to work procedures or schedules. Examples include changing the location where employees work or reducing the amount of time they work outdoors.
  • Provide proper respiratory protection equipment, such as disposable respirators, if the previous measures are not feasible or do not prevent harmful exposures.
  • To filter out fine particles, respirators must be labeled N-95, N-99, N-100, R-95, P-95, P-99, or P-100, and must be labeled as approved by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Postal Service Cited After Mail Carrier Hospitalized for Heat Exposure
OSHA has cited the United States Postal Service (USPS) $129,336 after investigators determined the employer failed to provide proper safety measures to a Las Vegas, Nevada, mail carrier hospitalized for heat exposure.
OSHA's investigation revealed that at least four USPS employees at the Silverado Station branch in Las Vegas received treatment for heat-related illness this year, including one hospitalization. OSHA cited the USPS for failing to protect letter carriers working in extreme heat, lacking sufficient heat control measures, and having inadequate procedures for contacting supervisors when employees experience heat-related symptoms.
"The dangers of working in high-heat conditions are well-known," said OSHA Area Director Eric Brooks, in Las Vegas. "OSHA has cited the U.S. Postal Service repeatedly for failing to provide employees with a workplace free of recognized hazards. Employers whose employees work outdoors in heat are responsible for ensuring work practices include sufficient water, rest, and shade when hazardous conditions exist."
Contractor Cited After Employee Fatally Injured in Explosion at Alabama Worksite
OSHA has cited Legend Directional Services LLC – based in Weatherford, Texas – for improper storage of compressed gases after an employee suffered fatal injuries in an explosion at the Harpersville Reinforcement Project in Harpersville, Alabama.
OSHA investigators determined that flammable welding gases stored in an unventilated storage container exploded when the employee opened the container door. OSHA cited the drilling company for storing compressed welding gas cylinders and liquefied petroleum tanks in an unventilated container, failing to store acetylene and oxygen cylinders separately, and failing to train employees on hazards associated with flammable chemicals. Legend Directional Services faces $28,455 in penalties, which includes the maximum allowed for the fatality-related citation.
"Employers who use hazardous chemicals in their workplaces are required to train employees on chemical safety data sheets and labels and incorporate safety controls to protect employees from those hazards," said OSHA Birmingham Area Office Director Ramona Morris. "This tragedy could have been avoided if the employer had followed required procedures for storing dangerous gases."
Employers at Georgia Distribution Center Cited for Safety Hazards After Worker Injury
OSHA has cited U.S. Xpress Inc. and Dollar Tree Distribution Center Inc. for exposing workers to struck-by and other hazards after a powered industrial truck fatally struck an employee at the distribution center in Savannah, Georgia. Dollar Tree Distribution Center Inc. and U.S. Xpress Inc. face penalties of $130,112 and $12,934 respectively.
OSHA cited both companies for failing to ensure that employees wore high-visibility vests while working at night inside the center. OSHA also cited Dollar Tree Distribution Center Inc. for using a vehicle with a non-functioning headlight, failing to guard a nip point on a conveyor discharge belt, and storing unstable materials on racks.
"This tragedy could have been prevented had the employer assessed the workplace for hazards and taken action to eliminate the safety risks to employees," said OSHA Savannah Area Office Director Margo Westmoreland.
Massachusetts Contractor Fined After Fatal Fall
OSHA has cited Northeast Framing Inc. – based in Lunenberg, Massachusetts – for exposing workers to falls and other hazards following an employee’s fatal fall at an East Boston, Massachusetts, worksite in May 2018. The company faces $311,330 in penalties, the maximum allowed by law.
OSHA inspectors determined that Northeast Framing Inc. failed to provide adequate fall protection for employees, despite repeated notifications from the project’s general contractor. The company also failed to train employees to recognize and avoid fall, ladder, electrical, and other hazards; provide adequate documentation regarding the safety of forklifts; perform regular jobsite safety inspections; notify OSHA of the employee’s work-related death; and provide injury and illness logs to OSHA in a timely manner.
“Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Employers must provide fall protection and adequately train workers to identify occupational hazards that can cause injury,” said OSHA Braintree Area Office Director James Mulligan.
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