The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), Small Business Administration (SBA), The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA) have been working together to provide clarification to OSHA’s interpretation of the pending crane operator certification requirements.

In November 2010, OSHA adopted Regulation 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC requiring all crane operators in the United States be certified according to the new standard effective November 10, 2014. The rule further specifies that certification written and practical tests be conducted by type and capacity.

On May 10, 2012 OSHA issued a document containing the answers to 50 Frequently Asked Questions to clarify the regulation.  In the FAQ document, question 21 and OSHA’s response reads as follows:

“Does an operator’s certification mean that the operator is qualified to operate any type of equipment covered by the standard? No, an operator may operate a particular piece of equipment if the operator is certified for that type and capacity of equipment or for higher-capacity equipment of that type. For example, an operator certified for a 100-ton hydraulic crane may operate a 50-ton hydraulic crane but not a 200-ton hydraulic crane. If no accredited testing agency offers certification examinations for a particular type and/or capacity of equipment, an operator is considered to be qualified to operate that equipment if the operator has been certified for the type/capacity of equipment that is most similar to that equipment and for which a certification examination is available. The operator’s certificate must state the type/capacity of equipment for which the operator is certified. “

Based on this interpretation, individuals may only operate cranes of a lower capacity than the crane they tested on and may not operate a crane of a higher capacity (even if the crane is the same type).  It is SC&RA and NCCCO’s position that the intent of the initial regulation was to require certification tests by crane type but not specific capacity.  They further contends that the FAQ interpretation will cause an additional fiscal impact to employers which was never considered during the economic impact study.  There is no justification, nor additional safety benefit to warrant this interpretation.

Currently, seventeen states certify crane operators and not one has a capacity requirement in its program.

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