Crane Safety Rule One Step Closer to Reality

Ben Somberg

April 16, 2010

As the Pump Handle noted earlier this week, OSHA submitted its draft final rule on construction cranes and derricks to OMB on Friday of last week. It’s good news that the process is now moving along.

The cranes and derricks rule has been a long saga, and it was one of the case studies in our report last year on the costs of regulatory delay.

By OSHA’s estimates, 89 people are killed and 263 are injured each year in construction crane incidents. The existing safety standards for the use of cranes, derricks, and other heavy machinery at construction sites are now almost 40 years old and are in dire need of updating to account for changes in technology and construction practices. Beginning in the mid-1990s, industry itself began petitioning OSHA for stronger and more comprehensive regulations, and in 2004 a committee of industry, labor, and government representatives reached agreement on a draft proposed rule. That’s the rule that is now a bit closer to finally becoming a reality.

The rule requires operators, inspectors, and assembly and disassembly workers to be certified, and it also helps account for many of the technological changes that have occurred since 1971. OSHA estimates that the new rule could cut the death and injury rate by more than half.

The regulatory delay in the cranes rule has had a cost in human lives. It's long past time we got this one right.

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