OSHA recently released a revised compliance directive for audits in cranes and derricks in construction. This revision affects businesses that receive a visit from OSHA. The guidelines include a detailed explanation on what OSHA will be looking for during their visits/audits, and what activities will end up in a violation. Keep in mind that violations come with fines, so it is important to familiarize yourself with this directive to avoid a financial hit to your company. In this article, we will explain exactly what is being changed, as well as what that can mean for your business.

Important Changes Made

According to OSHA’s 1926.1427 (a) General Requirements for Operator Competency, “the employer must ensure that each operator is: Trained AND certified/licensed AND evaluated in accordance with this section, OR The operator must be continuously supervised in compliance with operator-in-training requirements of subpart CC.”

The compliance guide recognizes that the policies were always enforced, but the procedure for ensuring the requirements are met has become clear. OSHA includes flowcharts in the updated directive, which give an outline of questions an auditor may ask an operator or supervisor. Below is an example of a flowchart for operator certification licensing:

This image depicts OSHA's flowchart for operator certification licensing in their updated compliance directive

When a compliance officer makes an appearance on your worksite, they will ask these questions to the employer, operator, or supervisor. If “No” is answered to any of these questions, a violation may be given. As you can see, this flowchart has made OSHA’s audits “black and white.” There is little to no room for grey areas on what can be considered a violation.

In addition, if one of these questions requires documentation, auditors will ask the employer or supervisor to provide the necessary documents. For example, the employer states an operator is qualified. Qualified means the employee is deemed knowledgeable and has either taken a training course or has been observed when performing a task.

The employer should have evidence on how they initially determined the operator is qualified. It could either be a certificate from a training program, or there could be documentation from an evaluation. If the employer has neither of these pieces of evidence, they will be issued a citation.

What is the OSHA Compliance Directive?

The original directive was published in 1978. Prior to this revision, the latest edition dated back to 2014. These changes were made to incorporate 2018 updates to Subpart CC, notably operator evaluations.

This image of the updated compliance directive displays the crane operator evaluation

The full 200+ page document, can be found here. The highlights are on pages 5-6 which list an “Abbreviated Inspection Checklist” with the core 18 items an officer is looking for. Employers and supervisors must understand this information, for OSHA may visit a job site without warning. Knowing what to expect when a compliance offer arrives will make the audit process smoother and less stressful.

The Importance of OSHA

OSHA’s mission is to “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” The organization was established to make sure businesses are following safe practices. Companies must follow their standards and make sure their employees are working safely, for it prevents accidents and saves lives.