Employers who operate cranes on a construction site are responsible for complying with all aspects of the standard, but other employers whose personnel work at the site have responsibilities as well. These employer duties are consistent with OSHA’s multi-employer policy, which recognizes that the Occupational Safety and Health Act imposes compliance duties on (1) employers who create or control hazards, (2) employers whose employees are exposed to hazards, and (3) employers with general supervisory authority over a work site.
The following questions and answers explain the compliance duties of different employers under various common situations.
Q1: I own and operate a crane on a construction site. The crane operator is my employee. What are my responsibilities under the standard?
A1: You must comply with all requirements of the standard, as you control all hazards the crane may create.
Q2: I operate a leased crane on a construction site. The crane’s lessor has informed me that the crane meets OSHA’s standard. Can I rely on the lessor’s word and assume that the crane complies with the standard?
A2: No. As the employer operating the crane you are responsible for complying with all requirements of the standard. Even if the lessor states that the crane meets the standard, you must take steps to verify that claim. One way to verify their claim is to ask the lessor for the most recent monthly and annual inspections reports, which will identify any problems found by the inspectors that either needed to be fixed or that need to be checked in future inspections. These documents must be made available to all persons who conduct inspections under the standard, including the shift inspections you must conduct while operating the crane. If the lessor cannot produce the required inspection documents, you will need to conduct an annual inspection and document the results of that inspection before operating the crane. See section 1412 for a description of the inspections required by the standard.
Q3: I lease a crane to a construction contractor and provide an operator for the crane. While on the site, the operator is supervised exclusively by the lessee’s foreman. Do I have any responsibilities under the standard?
A3: Yes. You must comply with all requirements of the standard because your employee, the operator, would be exposed to any hazards resulting from the crane’s operation. Moreover, you are responsible for any violations caused by the crane operator because you are the operator’s employer and the lessee is relying on the operator’s knowledge and skills to ensure that operations are conducted safely. See section 1427 (operator qualification and certification).
Q4: I lease a crane to a construction contractor. I do not provide an operator with the crane. However, when the lessee tells me that the crane requires maintenance or repair, I send my mechanic to do the necessary work. Do I have any responsibilities under the standard?
A4: Yes. Because the mechanic is your employee, you must comply with section 1429 (qualifications of maintenance and repair workers), and you are responsible for any hazards that result from the actions of your mechanic that expose other workers on the site to hazards. In addition, you are responsible for any violations to which your mechanic is exposed while he/she is working on the crane.
Q5: I lease a crane to a construction contractor. I do not provide an operator for the crane, nor do I have anyone inspect or repair the crane while it is on the site. Do I have any responsibilities under the standard?
A5: No. An employer who leases (or sells) a crane but does not send any employees to the work site where the crane is used is not subject to the standard. However, as noted in answer 2, the lessee is responsible for the condition of the crane and may ask you to produce written records of past crane inspections or to provide other information about the crane.
Q6: I am a contractor on a construction site. Another contractor is using a crane on the site. None of my work involves the crane. Do I have any responsibilities under the standard?
A6: Yes, because your employees may be exposed to hazards caused by the crane’s operation. For example, if a crane collapses due to being over-loaded, employees working elsewhere on the site can be killed or injured. And if, for example, a crane makes electrical contact with a power line, any employee touching or even near the crane can be electrocuted.
Even though you are not operating the crane, you must be aware of potential crane hazards and are responsible for protecting your employees against hazards you can reasonably foresee. You must take reasonable steps to protect your employees. For example, if you are concerned with a crane’s stability due to potential overloading, unstable ground conditions, or high winds, you must satisfy yourself that the crane is stable before allowing your employees to work where they would be in danger if the crane collapses. One way is to ask the company operating the crane or the controlling contractor on the site whether all necessary precautions are being taken to ensure the crane’s stability. Also, you have a duty to train your employees in the hazards associated with their work, including those that might arise from working near a crane.
Q7: What training must I provide to my employees?
A7: Training that must be provided under the standard to equipment operators, signal persons, competent and qualified persons, maintenance and repair workers, and workers who work near the equipment is referenced primarily in section 1430 (training). Additional training requirements are specified in other provisions of the standard. In addition, 1926.21(b)(2) requires employers to train construction workers how to recognize and avoid the hazards associated with their work and, depending on the circumstances, may require training in topics not listed in the cranes and derricks standard.
Q8: I operate a lumberyard and deliver sheet goods (such as drywall or plywood) or packaged goods (such as roofing shingles, bags of cement, or rolls of roofing felt) to a construction site using a flatbed truck equipped with an articulating crane. At the site, I use the crane to place the material either onto the ground or onto the structure being erected. Must I comply with the standard?
A8: If you only place materials on the ground without arranging the materials in a particular order for hoisting, you are not engaged in construction work and have no duties under the standard. If you place materials onto the structure, you are engaged in construction work, and the standard applies to your work. However, if you deliver only building supply sheet goods or building supply packaged materials onto the structure and your articulating/ knuckleboom truck crane is equipped with a properly functioning automatic overload prevention device, you have no further duties under the standard. Otherwise, you must comply with the entire standard when using the crane to place material onto the structure.
Q9: I deliver prefabricated roof trusses and wall panels to a construction site using a flatbed truck equipped with an articulating crane. At the site, I use the crane to place the material either onto the ground or onto the structure being erected. Must I comply with the standard?
A9: You must comply with the standard if you unload the material onto the structure. You need not comply with the standard if you unload the material onto the ground without arranging the materials in a particular order for hoisting because that activity is not construction work.
Q10: I am the general contractor on a home building project. The framing subcontractor informs me that he will be bringing a crane onto the site to lift roof trusses onto the structure. Do I have any responsibilities under the standard?
A10: You are responsible for seeing that the ground on which the crane will operate is sufficiently firm and level to enable the crane to operate safely. See section 1402 (ground conditions). In addition, you must inform the framing contractor of the location of hazards beneath the equipment set-up area (such as voids, tanks, utilities) if those hazards are identified in documents (such as site drawings, as-built drawings, or soil analyses) that are in your possession or the hazards are otherwise known to you. If there is more than one crane on the site and the working radii of the cranes overlap, you must establish a system to control their operations. See section 1424. In addition to these specific duties under the standard, as the controlling contractor on the site you have the same responsibility under this standard as you have under other OSHA standards: you must exercise reasonable care to prevent and detect violations on the site. See OSHA Instruction CPL 2-0.124, “Multi-Employer Citation Policy,” (Dec 10, 1999), section X.E.
Q11: I notice that certain provisions of the standard direct my employees, such as my crane operator, to take certain steps. Do I have any responsibilities under such provisions?
A11: Yes. Where provisions of this standard direct an operator, crew member, or other employee to take certain actions, section 1400 requires you to establish, effectively communicate to the relevant persons, and enforce work rules to ensure compliance with such provisions.