Maryland Proposes Stiff Crane Safety Regs

September 28, 2010

Maryland’s crane safety regulations could be among the strictest in the nation, if sweeping changes proposed by the state labor department are adopted.

The proposed changes come three months after a fatal crane accident near Annapolis.

The new regulations call for crane operators, riggers and signal people to fulfill uniform training standards. The state would also increase requirements for inspections and accident investigations.

An advisory board of Maryland’s Occupational Safety and Health program has already unanimously voted to recommend the new regulations. However, a state legislative committee must now sign off on the proposal.

The Maryland General Assembly’s Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee is expected to approve the proposed regulations. Once approved, they could go into effect within three months.

The proposed regulations call for:

  • Daily inspections of cranes when in use and comprehensive annual inspections.
  • Operators, riggers and signal crews must have training consistent with national standards.
  • Employers to notify the state labor department two days before setting up a lift that uses multiple cranes or installing or dismantling a tower crane.
  • That a "master rigger," with at least five years of experience, be on site supervising work when a tower crane is erected, lengthened or dismantled.
  • Drug and alcohol testing required of crane employees within 24 hours of serious or fatal accidents.

Although at least 15 states require training certification or licensure for crane operations, Maryland apparently would be the first to establish uniform training standards for riggers and signal people.

Cranes are considered most dangerous when they are being erected or dismantled. The Center for Construction Research and Training reports that 323 construction workers died in 307 crane accidents (an annual average of 22 deaths) between 1992 and 2006.

Other states with recent crane collapses include New York, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and Nevada. Several states are in the process of trying to increase safety regulations. The national Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also reviewing its regulations.