OSHA Clarifies that Forklifts with Fork-Suspended Loads Don’t Need Certified Crane Operator | Construction News

OSHA plans to amend its Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard to clarify that forklifts and telehandlers carrying loads suspended from their forks do not need to be operated by certified crane operators.

The agency has circulated a draft of the clarification to reviewers but has not set a date for its enactment. The amendments would come in 29 CFR1926.1400(c)(8).

Confusion about the topic arose from wording in OSHA’s new Cranes and Derricks Standard enacted in August 2010.

Verbiage in the standard says the rule generally applies “to power-operated equipment, when used in construction, that can hoist, lower, and horizontally move a suspended load.” That description could include forklifts and telehandlers carrying loads suspended beneath the forks or from a hook hanging beneath a telehandler boom.

OSHA says the rule was not intended to include forklifts that have loads suspended from the forks or a hook (as long as the hook isn’t on the end of a winch line), and that the August 2010 rule specifically excludes “powered industrial trucks (forklifts), except when configured to hoist and lower (by means of a winch or hook) and horizontally move a suspended load.”

To resolve confusion between the regulation’s preamble, its general description, and the exclusion, OSHA proposes to change 1926.1400(c)(8) so it exempts forklifts except when they're equipped with “a boom and hoist” instead of with a “winch or hook.”

The proposed change is designed to make clear that contractors will not need to certify as crane operators tens of thousands of construction workers who may operate forklifts or telehandlers with loads suspended from the forks but that will never sit at the controls of a crane.

If, however, a load is suspended from a hoist mounted on a forklift or telehandler, the equipment will need to be operated by a certified crane operator.