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OSHA Standard for Training Crane Signalers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration clarified the training requirements for signal workers covered by the agency''s cranes and derricks standard (29 CFR 1926) in a June 28 letter to the Iron Workers International Union.

James Maddux, chief of OSHA''s directorate of construction, said the union''s Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee program and Ironworker Apprenticeship Certification Program meet OSHA''s definition of a “third party qualified evaluator” approved to certify a signal worker''s qualifications.

The union asked for clarification in December, and since then, other organizations such as the Specialized Carrier and Rigging Association have asked OSHA similar questions raised in relation to the 11-month-old cranes and derricks standard (41 OSHR 545, 6/23/11).

The standard mandates that a signal person “know and understand the types of signals” used between the crane operator and signaler, including voice, radio, and hand signals; and have a basic understanding of equipment operations limitations, including the dynamics of swinging and stopping loads. To earn qualified status a worker must pass an oral or written exam, and a practical test.

“In general, OSHA does not evaluate or endorse specific products or programs,” Maddux wrote in the letter. “It should be noted, however, that in the preamble to the final subpart CC rule. OSHA stated that ‘labor management joint apprenticeship training programs that train and assess signal persons would typically meet the definition of third-party qualified evaluator….”

The standard interpretation was good news for the iron workers union and employers concerned that workers would have to go through another round of training to satisfy OSHA.

“I am pleased with the agency''s efforts to provide a written clarification on important regulations … that affect our industry,” Walter Wise, general president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, told BNA in a July 1 statement. “Our Joint Apprentice Training Committee programs serve as an independent entity, and are competent in accurately assessing whether individuals meet the qualification requirements for signals persons.”

Maddux also clarified the crane standard''s requirements for signal workers to prove they meet OSHA training minimums. He said certification cards issued by a “third party qualified evaluator,” or the employer''s qualified evaluator, would be “satisfactory documentation of a signal person''s qualification” if the card shows the signal person is competent in the type of signal used at the site and has met other requirements such as passing an examination and practical test.

The iron workers also asked where the qualification records needed to be kept. Because a signal person could be sent to several locations in a week, the union was concerned about whether the worker would have to carry extensive training records to each job site

Maddux said employers must be able to produce qualification documents such as a certification card “immediately” to OSHA inspectors or anyone else depending on the signal person''s training. To meet that requirement, a signal workers can carry the records with them or have electronic access to the documentation.