Product Liability

New crane safety regulations take effect this fall

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced new rule today addressing the use of cranes and derricks in construction, replacing a decades-old standard that left construction sites throughout the country tragically unsafe.

According to the Labor Department, crane and derrick accidents kill 100 people on average every year in the U.S. A single crane collapse on East 51st in Manhattan left seven people dead two years ago. Later that same year, another crane fell into an apartment building in New York’s Upper East Side, killing two workers and injuring others.

The new rule published today is designed to prevent the leading causes of crane fatalities, including electrocution; assembly and disassembly crush and striking hazards, collapse, and overturn. The rule also sets requirements for ground conditions and crane operator assessment and addresses tower crane hazards and the use of synthetic slings for assembly and disassembly work.

Approximately 267,000 construction, crane rental, and crane certification establishments employing about 4.8 million workers will be affected by the rule published today.

“The significant number of fatalities associated with the use of cranes in construction led the Labor Department to undertake this rulemaking,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said. “After years of extensive research, consultation and negotiation with industry experts, this long overdue rule will address the leading causes of fatalities related to cranes and derricks, including electrocution, boom collapse and overturning.”

The previous rule, which dated back to 1971, was based on 40-year-old standards that did not reflect newer requirements, practices and methods, and advances in crane and derrick construction and technology.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels said the new rule “addresses critically important provisions for crane operator certification, and crane inspection, set-up and disassembly. Compliance with the rule will prevent needless worker injuries and death, and provide protection for the public and property owners.”

The new rule will take effect on Nov. 8, 2010. To view the complete rule, go to http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2010-17818_PI.pdf. The regulation text is also  available at http://www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/index.html.