When stringent regulations are published to monitor any industry, some agencies are always at work to find `loopholes’ in the verbiage in order to get around them.
The sudden influx of so-called `dual rated’ or `dual purpose’ cranes-cum-aerial lifts over the last few years, is an extremely worrying example of this.
Certain equipment manufacturers are clubbing the two together in order to subvert OSHA’s (Occupational Safety And Health Administration) regulation, 29 C.F.R. § 1926.1431(h), that stipulates that a crane operator is required to conduct a trial lift before raising any personnel off the ground with a boom truck crane.
Since this safety measure is both time and labor intensive, and some companies want to avoid it, manufacturers of `dual-rated’ equipment are taking advantage of the fact that the test lift is not necessary for “machinery originally designed as vehicle-mounted aerial devices”. In other words, aerial lifts.
To better understand OSHA’s rulings on mandatory trials before any worker can be lifted with a boom truck crane, here are some excerpts from the organization’s website:
- A trial lift with the unoccupied personnel platform loaded at least to the anticipated lift weight must be made from ground level, or any other location where employees will enter the platform, to each location at which the platform is to be hoisted and positioned.
- Where there is more than one location to be reached from a single set-up position, either individual trial lifts for each location, or a single trial lift, in which the platform is moved sequentially to each location, must be performed; the method selected must be the same as the method that will be used to hoist the personnel.
- The trial lift must be performed immediately prior to each shift in which personnel will be hoisted. In addition, the trial lift must be repeated prior to hoisting employees if the equipment is moved and set up in a new location, returned to a previously used location or the lift route is changed.
- Immediately after the trial lift, the competent person must conduct a visual inspection of the equipment, base support or ground and personnel platform, to determine whether the trial lift has exposed any defect or problem or produced any adverse effect.
- Any condition found during the trial lift and subsequent inspection(s) that fails to meet a requirement of this standard or otherwise creates a safety hazard must be corrected before hoisting personnel.
As is pretty apparent from these regulations that OSHA has mandated to avoid accidents and protect human lives, the task of trial lifts is a detailed and rigorous one.
And some unscrupulous manufacturers are taking full advantage of this by marketing `dual-rated’ equipment that is apparently compliant with both the design standards for cranes (ASME B30.5) and for aerial lifts (ANSI A92.2), so operators can avoid the test lifts altogether.
But here is the problem with such a solution: it is not tenable or grounded in facts.
Firstly, a test lift is required of “dual-rated” cranes because they were in fact not “originally designed” to be vehicle-mounted aerial devices. Therefore, any operator who does not test lift a “dual-rated” crane before lifting personnel, is in clear violation of the OSHA regulations.
Secondly, a piece of equipment such as this cannot even be construed as “dual-purpose” because the standards of cranes and aerial lifts are not identical. Some industry experts even challenge that it can be feasibly designed in accordance to such a dissimilar set of standards.
In 2010, OSHA reviewed and revised its regulations applicable to cranes and issued the following commentary: “…Equipment covered by this section [cranes] is primarily designed for hoisting materials, not people. [The Committee] concluded that it was important to differentiate between equipment primarily designed for moving personnel, such as an aerial lift, as compared to equipment that is primarily designed to lift materials. In the judgment of the Committee, a personnel platform attached to equipment covered by this section presented a greater hazard than a machine that is designed for moving personnel.”
Could OSHA’s stance on these purported “dual-rated” equipment be any clearer?
If any reader of this article is considering the purchase of such a dangerous equipment to circumvent trial lifts, we at Custom Truck One Source strongly advise against it.
Cranes are NOT aerial lifts. And no amount of dual-purposing will make their applications combine in a single equipment.
Safety of human lives is of primary importance on a job site. And when you consider the penalties, such as fines, damages, loss of reputation, etc. if a worker is injured while operating a “dual-rated” crane, the risk of using such equipment, simply to avoid trials, is just not worth it.
Please contact Custom Truck Once Source, if you need more advice and guidance on this matter. We DO NOT sell “dual-rated” equipment and can help you make a choice that is legal, safe and profitable for you in the long run.