Saturday, June 7, 2008

Rules Don't Apply????

Why wouldn't Crane safety rules apply in Oregon? I have never seen where a State, Local or City sponsored OSHA group was better than Federal OSHA.

Usually, I am not a proponent for the Federal Government to run most anything. However, in researching so many different ways that State or Local OSHA programs see the same items so differently. I was totally amazed when I saw this article published in the Statesman Journal with the below headline.

This is total Donkey sense. Instead of many, many differently worded Standards to cover items such as Cranes, the Horse Sense way would be to have ONE set of Standards that are used Nationwide.


News safety

Crane safety rules don't apply here

Collapses prompt inspections elsewhere, but not in Oregon

By Thelma Guerrero-Huston • Statesman Journal

June 6, 2008

Although a number of cities across the nation have ordered safety inspections of tower cranes at construction sites after two recent crane collapses in Manhattan, city and state inspectors in Oregon have not followed suit.

(Note; Advertisements are a part of the article.)

Advertisement The reason: Neither the city nor the state have rules requiring regular inspections of the massive cranes.

"We don't currently have language in the city's building code that allows for that," said Tom Phillips, the administrator for the city of Salem's Building and Safety Division. "We only regulate the construction of the building itself and the equipment that will be used inside that building after it gets its final occupancy."

In Salem, and Oregon in general, tower cranes are under the purview of the state's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which requires certification for crane operators.

However, the agency does not require an inspection certification before or after a tower crane is erected.

"The Legislature does not require that we inspect cranes ... or any piece of construction equipment," said OSHA administrator Michael Wood. He said the agency lacks the resources, namely inspectors, that would be required to conduct such safety inspections.

Unlike Oregon, California, which also makes crane safety the jurisdiction of its state OSHA, requires inspection permits and certifications for erecting tower cranes. Some cities, such as San Francisco, require periodic inspections to ensure the crane is properly anchored.

In Washington, a new law governing crane safety standards, including operator certification and crane inspections, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2010.

Officials with both states said they were motivated to push such legislation after tower-crane accidents that resulted in a number of deaths.

Oregon OSHA does conduct inspections of tower cranes after an accident, whenever a worker safety complaint is filed or when returning for a random check at a site which has previously experienced an accident.

There currently are two 120-foot tower cranes in operation in Salem.

One is in use at The Meridian, a six-story office/resident complex under construction on the corner of Mission and Commercial streets NE.

The other is operational at the Rivers Condominiums, a high-rise condominium project being built on the corner of Court and Front streets NE.

Both cranes were rented from Salem-based Morrow Equipment Co., which owns and operates the largest fleet of tower cranes in North America. Neither of the tower cranes involved in the New York incidences were owned by Morrow.

However, a Morrow Equipment crane was involved in a collapse March 15 in Miami, killing two people and injuring four others.

Morrow officials declined comment for this story.

Mike Mueller, a project manager with John Hyland Construction of Eugene, which is constructing The Meridian, said Morrow Equipment officials inspect the tower crane on the job site several times a month.

"Our crane operator also keeps a log of the hours the crane works, so that way we can check it weekly to make sure it doesn't have any damage," Mueller said. The company began construction on The Meridian in March 2007.

The tower crane in use at the Rivers Condominiums has only been on the job site two weeks, said Wayne Cox, the firm's project manager.

"We've had Morrow workers here training our crane operators on site," he said. "They'll be inspecting the crane weekly, but we'll be inspecting it ourselves at least twice a day."

At the Oregon chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 701, which includes tower crane operators, some discussions have focused on the recent accidents in New York.

"We never are completely sure of what causes them, but usually there's been a mistake made or a short cut taken," said Mark Holliday, the IUOE's business manager and financial secretary, who estimates there are as many as 20 tower cranes on the job in the state's larger metropolitan areas.

The union is satisfied with the state's inspection and safety procedures, Holliday said.

"I think giving regulatory authority over tower cranes to OSHA is proper because it's consistent and follows up on accidents," he said. "If it were left up to the cities, we'd have a checkerboard of rules."

tguerrero-huston@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6815

1 comment:

Michael Wood said...

Just a clarification regarding teh original story:

Unfortunately, the article was a bit misleading in its emphasis -- and the headline was just plan wrong. Crane safety rules do apply in Oregon, including rules requiring the employer and/or crane operator to inspect. What does not exist in Oregon (and in most of the rest of the country, particularly that subject only to federal jurisdiction) is a requirement for every crane to be inspected by a government agency (or by another third party) when erected and prior to use.

Michael Wood, CSP
Administrator, Oregon OSHA