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New crane operator regulations proposed

Florida contractors may have already learned that in May, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed a new crane safety regulation.

This additional rule would add new elements when determining whether crane operators were sufficiently competent and make employers responsible for ensuring they hire only qualified operators.

Who is affected?

Approximately 100,000 crane operators could potentially be impacted by the proposal to eliminate the need for crane operators be certified on the equipment's rated lifting capacity.

As of now, this provision remains unenforced, as factions within the industry disagree over its efficacy. No mention was made on eliminating a requirement mandating operators be tested on the types of cranes.

Will it increase costs?

The preliminary estimate by OSHA of the annual cost of compliance is $1.6 million. The agency includes a major, one-time $25.5 million cost savings in its projections. This would be linked to eliminating the regulation that stipulates crane operators be certified by capacity.

In the proposal, OSHA states this would be "because that change would eliminate the need for a very large number of operators to get an additional certification."

What about safety?

Cranes typically are the largest pieces of heavy equipment on any job site. Those working on and around them are exposed to more dangers than many other construction workers. There are no good outcomes for those who get crushed under tons of steel in the event of a crane collapse.

In September of last year, with Hurricane Irma churning off the coast of Miami, there was not enough time to lower the dozens of cranes in the metro area before the storm made landfall. As a consequence, some nearby buildings were damaged by the booms, but the damage was minimal and there was no loss of life.

At this juncture, it's impossible to predict the effect this regulatory change could have on those in the construction industry. But crane accidents indubitably affect the bottom lines of construction companies, so it's prudent to stay abreast of the matter.

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