OSHA releases final crane rule; compliance deadline Dec. 10

November 6, 2018 By    
Photo courtesy of the Propane Education & Research Council

The new final crane rule released by OSHA will require third-party certification of crane operators in only one specific and limited scenario of the propane industry, the administration says. Photo courtesy of the Propane Education & Research Council

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a new final rule for the cranes and derricks in construction regulation that carries a compliance date of Dec. 10.

The rule states: “Propane field technician operators would fall under the crane rule in only one very specific and limited scenario: installation of new tanks (not replacement of existing tanks in kind) at a construction site.”

In a webinar about the rule, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) emphasized the three specific factors that must apply to trigger coverage of the rule, which would then require third-party certification for crane operators. They are:

• Construction site (OSHA indicates that construction sites include those in residential areas, NPGA says, and defines construction as “work for construction, alteration and/or repair, including painting and decorating”)
• Delivery and immediate installation (carried out as one continuous process)
• New tanks (at a location and not meaning newly manufactured, purged or have never contained propane)

“All three factors need to be satisfied to trigger coverage of the crane rule,” says Sarah Reboli, director of regulatory affairs at NPGA.

Third-party certification would be required for operators of cranes with a hoisting capacity of more than 2,000 pounds, regardless of size, make, model or manufacture date, NPGA says. In addition, any third-party organizations offering certification must have an OSHA accreditation, Reboli notes.

“We all understand the main component of this rulemaking is the third-party certification requirement for crane operators,” says Mike Caldarera, vice president of regulatory and technical services at NPGA. “That’s been the most concerning to us.”

The rule’s release comes after a significant effort over the past year to draw the attention of the legislative and executive branches of government to the propane industry’s argument that OSHA should not include cranes operated in delivery or retrieval of tanks in the regulation, NPGA reports. Prior to the release of this new final rule, OSHA had set Nov. 10 as the compliance deadline.

Since the beginning of 2018, supporters of the propane industry have sent more than 13,000 messages to the White House and Congress, in addition to OSHA’s recent notice of proposed rulemaking addressing the cranes and derricks in construction rule. Earlier this year, Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., supported the propane industry’s position by introducing HR 5988, the Common Sense Certification Reform Act, which has 50 co-sponsors, the association adds.

“OSHA acknowledged some of our industry’s concerns in this rule,” says Chris Earhart, NPGA chairman and president of Dixie Gas & Oil Corp.

In addition to the Dec. 10 compliance date for certification, OSHA set a Feb. 7, 2019, effective date for employer evaluation and documentation requirements of the final rule.

“This has to do with the employer ensuring the employee is qualified to operate the equipment,” Caldarera says.

NPGA developed a fact sheet about the crane rule and offers more resources on the member dashboard of its website. The association is also asking propane industry members to contact Caldarera or Reboli for more information.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on Nov. 13.

* Featured image: Propane Education & Research Council

About the Author:

Clara Richter is the managing editor at LP Gas magazine. Contact her at crichter@northcoastmedia.net or 216-363-7920.

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