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The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recently announced a proposed rule that would extend the compliance date for crane operator certification by an additional three years, delaying the deadline until November 10, 2017. OSHA also proposed a rule to extend the phase-in requirement that requires employers to ensure that operators are qualified to operate the equipment they are responsible for operating.

As a response to the escalating number of crane accidents throughout the United States, OSHA issued a standard regarding requirements for cranes and derricks used in construction work in August 2010. The standard adopted requires crane operators on construction sites to meet one of four qualification or certification options prior to November 10, 2014. Those options include:

  1. Certification by an accredited crane operator testing organization.
  2. Qualification by an audited employer program.
  3. Qualification by the U.S. military.
  4. Licensing by a government entity.

Following the issuance of the new standards, representatives of the construction industry expressed concerns about complying with the new standards. As a result, OSHA decided to extend the compliance deadline by three years “so that the certification requirements do not take effect during potential rulemaking or cause disruption to the construction industry.”

Though the owners of construction companies may welcome the three-year extension, it could put workers at risk as well. Crane accidents across the United States cause far too many work-related deaths and serious injuries each year, which is precisely why the new operator standard was issued. Just recently, a crane collapsed at a City of Atlanta sewage pumping station and storage facility that was under construction off Cheshire Bridge Road. Fortunately, no one was injured in that collapse. However, serious, even fatal, injuries often occur when a crane collapses.

Cranes routinely move heavy building materials around construction sites. Although cranes allow the construction of taller and safer buildings, cranes also present a serious hazard to those working in the vicinity. Tragedy can strike when the load being moved by a crane falls, the crane overturns, or one of the cables holding the load snaps. A significant percentage of crane accidents are caused, at least in part, by operator error. The operator of a crane may be responsible for everything from assembling the crane to securing the load to moving the load. An error made at any point can spell disaster.

All too often, crane operators lack the experience, knowledge, and skill to properly and safely operate the crane. The intended purpose of the new crane operator standards is to ensure that all crane operators do have the proper qualifications by requiring all operators to be certified or qualified before being allowed to operate a crane. If compliance with the new standards is extended for an additional three years, it effectively means that workers on a construction site, as well as innocent bystanders, will continue to be exposed to increased hazards.

If you have been injured in a Georgia crane accident you may be entitled to compensation through the Georgia workers’ compensation system. An experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can explain your legal options.