Priority push

18 April 2008

SC&RA continually monitors Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) regulations that are under review or development. In some cases the association takes a more active role in helping to shape workplace rules that protect its members' employees. A particularly noteworthy example is the proposed safety standard for cranes and derricks (Subpart N of 29 CFR 1926).

There have been considerable technological changes since the standard was developed in 1971, based in part on industry consensus standards from 1958, 1968, and 1969. Industry consensus standards for derricks and for crawler, truck, and locomotive cranes were updated as recently as 2004.

After a cross-section of the industry asked OSHA to update Subpart N, the agency determined that the existing rule needed to be revised and established a negotiated rulemaking committee to develop a draft proposed rule. The Crane and Derrick Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (C-DAC), which included a representative from SC&RA, met nearly every month for a year before achieving consensus on July 9, 2004.

Additionally, a five-member delegation from SC&RA presented public comments to the labor department on July 7, 2004. And the association's 13-member C-DAC Task Force provided continual direction and guidance relative to SC&RA's position on issues pertaining to the development of the proposed rule.

More than eight months after C-DAC finished its task, SC&RA learned that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had yet to begin the economic analysis of the rule's impact. In fact, an independent consultant to conduct the analysis had not yet been selected. On February 24, 2005, SC&RA wrote to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to express disappointment concerning the lack of progress in efforts to update the safety regulation.

“To allow the rulemaking process to delay, after such a positive start, would be a disservice to the entire industry,”wrote SC&RA. “Throughout our nation, lives and property will continue to remain at risk because of OSHA's inaction.”

Soon the economic analysis was underway. Progress was delayed because OSHA's Directorate of Evaluation and Analysis, already working with limited time and resources, was forced by a court order to respond to concerns about occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium and was also addressing beryllium.

During the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) meeting in early December in Washington, D.C., it was reported that the revised standard could prevent approximately 30 to 50 fatalities and 15,000 injuries annually. On January 10, 2006, a preliminary draft of the economic analysis was formed and sent to OSHA's Construction Directorate. SC&RA anticipates that based upon the analysis, OSHA will decide to form a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel. This panel will have 120 days to issue a report, which OSHA will then use to consider changes to the C-DAC draft standard.

The standard next goes to the Solicitor's Office while the Office of Construction Standards and Guidance concurrently works on the Preamble. Once these steps are completed, the proposed standard, with revisions, will be listed in the Federal Register for Public Comment. Although OSHA has made no predictions concerning the completion for the regulatory process, the agency has indicated that the standard is a top priority because of its commitment to the project and to the individuals who participated in the C-DAC Negotiated Rulemaking process.

“SC&RA, along with other organizations, is frustrated with how long this process is taking,”said Beth O'Quinn, SC&RA vice president-crane and rigging.

“But we also appreciate that OSHA is unwilling to take shortcuts that could result in a flawed regulation. We would like to see the standard receive more priority treatment throughout the agency.

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