A Common Sense Approach to Cranes, Derricks and the Safety of America's Construction Workers

Each year, close to 100 workers are killed, and hundreds more are injured in workplace incidents involving cranes and derricks in construction. These incidents and their catastrophic impact on the lives of workers and families in America are preventable. For the first time in nearly forty years, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced new rules to do just that.

Yesterday, after years of extensive research, consultation and negotiation with industry experts, OSHA announced the publication of a new rule covering the use of cranes and derricks in construction. This long overdue rule addresses the key hazards related to cranes and derricks on construction worksites, including the four main causes of worker death and injury.  

Applying standards created in 1971 to the construction sites of 2010 just didn’t make sense. The work has changed and the equipment has certainly changed. Stakeholders from the construction industry recognized the need to update the safety requirements, methods and practices for cranes and derricks, and to incorporate technological advances in order to provide improved protection for workers.

The new standards are designed to ensure that workers are properly trained and certified to operate equipment, and that employers make  appropriate assessments and inspections on site before doing do. These common sense updates will lead to better safety for approximately 4.8 million workers employed at 267,000 construction, crane rental and crane certification establishments.

The new standards were developed with input from manufacturers, trade associations, unions, academic experts, and other stakeholders, and as a result everyone has something to gain. Compliance with the rule will prevent needless injuries and deaths, provide better protection to the publicand drive down the workers compensation rates for employers.

Additional information on the proposed new rule including links to OSHA fact sheets, the text of the rule in the Federal Register, and video testimonials are available online at www.osha.gov.

Dr. Michaels is Asst. Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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