The Official Online Weekly Newspaper of NAHB
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) long-awaited and complex final rule on crane and derricks in construction, which went into effect on Nov. 8, established a 20-foot buffer — up from 10 feet under the long-running previous rule — for cranes and derricks operating near overhead power lines.
The expanded 20-foot requirement, which primarily affects multifamily developers and construction, also sets additional requirements for builders, developers and crane contractors who encroach on the newly-established operating distance.
The comprehensive new crane rule applies to power-operated equipment used in construction (e.g. cranes) to hoist, lower and horizontally move a suspended load with a load rating capacity over 2,000 pounds.
Under the new standard, a hazard assessment inside the work zone where overhead power lines are present must be conducted before crane operations can begin.
The assessment includes identifying the work zone by demarcating the buffer boundaries with flags, a range limit device, a range control warning device or similar devices and prohibiting the operator from operating the crane beyond those boundaries.
Or, as an alternative, builders, developers or crane contractors can define the work zone as the 360-degree area surrounding the crane up to its maximum working radius in order to assure that no part of the crane, load line or load can encroach on the 20-foot power line buffer.
If any part of the crane, load line or load has the ability to operate within 20 feet of a power line, operators, builders or developers are required to meet one of three additional requirements to protect workers and minimize the hazard present.
- De-energizing and grounding the power line. Confirmation that the power line has been de-energized and is visibly grounded at the worksite must be obtained from the utility company/operator.
- Ensuring that the crane cannot get closer than 20 feet by conducting planning meetings with the crane operator and other workers in the area; erecting an elevated warning line, barricade or line of signs; and implementing additional protective measures contained in the final rule.
- Determining the power line’s voltage and minimum approach distance permitted using OSHA’s Table A clearance. Builders, developers or crane operators must determine if any part of the equipment or load line operating at the crane’s maximum working radius in the work zone could get closer than the minimum approach distance of the power line as permitted under Table A.
In order to help simplify this complex crane rule, NAHB has developed the “Overview of the Crane and Derricks in Construction Final Rule." The overview includes the minimum approach distances under OSHA’s Table A.