OSHA Offers No Easy Answers on Crane Regulation

My husband works in customer service for a local cable company, and friends often seek his advice in their quest for cable TV, internet, or even phone service. In an ideal world, when the cable man comes to their house, in addition to installing the box, he would offer step-by-step instructions on how to operate both it and the remote control. Unfortunately, too often he simply points the remote toward the TV as he passes it to the new customer and disappears. When a problem occurs, my husband is one of an army of people who offer advice over the phone or web.

I thought about this during the cork-popping on the new OSHA Cranes and Derricks rule in late July. The fanfare surrounding this government-issued crane industry bible, seven years in the making, began with a 30-minute teleconference between OSHA chief David Michaels and the media. That was followed by an hour-long web chat geared toward industry stakeholders.
Michaels talked in both sessions about how proud OSHA was of the new rule because it would save lives and reduce injuries. He implied that the last administration did not give the document very high priority—one of the reasons it took so long to hit the streets. I sat through both presentations, and I was left with a lot more questions than answers.

During the press conference, Michaels said about $55 million would be saved in fewer deaths and injuries to both workers and the public. I wanted to ask what the new rule would cost the industry in implementation, certification, and training, but there wasn’t enough time to get my question in the cue. As I sat through the web chat, I was equally frustrated for the industry at how questions were answered. Rather than attempting to address various issues, the staff members at the controls simply referred questioners to chapter and verse within the document. 

At the end of the web chat, OSHA apologized for not having time to answer the more than 500 questions that had been posed. Michaels said in the press conference that OSHA was putting together compliance materials in the form of small business guides, and regional OSHA offices would help people learn more about compliance from there on out. With just 90 days from Aug. 8 until implementation, the industry (nearly 5 million people from operators to certifiers) has a lot of homework to do. They are going to need more than just a download and a nudge in the right direction.

If ever there was a time to join an industry association, it is now. In my experience, organizations like the Association of Crane & Rigging Professionals, the Crane Certification Association of America, and the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association each offer tremendous resources and advice when it comes to regulatory affairs. Take advantage of the expertise of their members, and publications such as this one, as you develop your own “customer service center” on compliance with the new regulation.

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About the Author: 

Lucy Perry

A trade journalism veteran, Lucy Avera Perry has spent more than a decade in transportation and construction publishing and marketing. She served for seven years as Associate Publisher and Managing Editor of Asphalt Contractor Magazine, where she brought cutting-edge information on equipment and technology to the asphalt road construction industry, wrote how-to articles that became hot-mix industry training material, and gave another voice to issues in transportation construction. She also served as Editor and Publisher of Bridge Builder Magazine, and helped develop the Asphalt Construction Expo (ACE). In addition to transportation construction, Lucy also has written articles and edited newsletters in the areas of agricultural construction, real estate, and business marketing.