According to a recent Federal Register notice, OSHA is seeking to delay by a year its new certification requirements for construction crane operators, which are currently set to go into effect on November 10, 2017. Before it can officially delay the rules, however, OSHA must consult with the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH). On June 20th, ACCSH will hold a telephone conference, open to the public, to discuss the matter and receive public comments.

This would be the third extension of the OSHA crane operator certification requirements. The cranes standard, 29 CFR 1926.1427, originally went into effect in November of 2010, except for provisions related to operator certification, which were delayed until November 2014. In September 2014, OSHA issued a final rule that again extended the effective date of the operator certification requirements by another three years, until November 10, 2017. This latest announcement would delay the requirements until November 10, 2018. Importantly, each of these extensions also extended the requirement that employers ensure that crane operators are competent to operate the equipment safely.

Under these new certification requirements, any person operating a construction crane subject to OSHA’s cranes standard will have to be certified (except for operators of sidebooms or equipment rated at 2,000 pounds or less). Certification testing involves an equipment-specific written examination and a practical test. Operators on civil projects can be certified or qualified by: 1) an accredited third party testing organization; 2) the employer through an audited employer program; or 3) licensing through a state or local government that meets OSHA’s minimum requirements. The employer must pay certification costs.

OSHA’s delays in implementing the rule are apparently related to industry concerns that third-party testing organizations have to certify the operator for not only the type of crane, but also the lifting capacity of the crane. Also, some have questioned whether the certification requirements are sufficient.

The bottom line: While the crane operator certification requirements will be delayed for another year, employers remain responsible for ensuring that these operators are properly trained on the equipment assigned to them. We suggest that companies do internal compliance or policy reviews periodically to ensure that their policies comply with the latest, changing standards.