Signs of the Times - September 2013 - (Page 116)

EDITORIALLY SPEAKING “Too many people are failing the tests, and the construction unions are pressuring Congress for relief.” By Wade Swormstedt OSHA Craning Reactions to the delay for training On May 22, the Occupational Safety and postpone Health Administration (OSHA) announced it would the effective date of the crane-operator certification requirements for three years, until November 10, 2017. Companies that already had invested time and money into certifying their operators groaned. Companies that hadn’t yet complied cheered. Safety, of course, is good, both for operators and the general public. Presumably, those sign companies that received the training will greatly benefit, as will their individual crane operators. Bill Dundas, the director of technical and regulatory affairs for the Intl. Sign Assn. (ISA), views the regulations as positive, in the bigger picture, and cautions that complacency shouldn’t replace compliance: “This gives sign companies more time to prepare for implementation of the requirement, but it doesn’t mean that OSHA is reconsidering its mandate for operator certification. Some sign companies might obtain certification for only a few employees who currently operate cranes, assuming they can shuttle certified operators among various projects. But for larger companies, or those typically involved in multiple installation projects at any given time, this approach probably isn’t practical.  “Although small businesses rarely welcome new federal regulations, crane-operator certification does carry some important and tangible benefits in terms of improving safety and reducing potential liability. Over time, these benefits typically outweigh the costs of certifying operators, but OSHA’s recent decision definitely helps sign companies by enabling them to amortize certification costs over a much longer period than originally specified.” The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) is an independent, not-forprofit organization incorporated in January 1995 to establish and administer a nationwide program for the certification of crane operators. NCCCO has administered more than 700,000 written and practical examinations to more than 135,000 operators in all 50 states. A week after the OSHA announcement, NCCCO rejoiced, because it believes OSHA needed to “re-examine the issue of certifying by capacity,” according to Jim Maddux, NCCCO’s director of the directorate for construction. However, NCCCO urged OSHA to make these changes quickly. As noted, the regulations are primarily aimed at the construction industry, and the sign industry, as so often occurs, gets swept into the mix. In a May 29 press release, NCCCO stated, “An extension of the deadline is worthless without immediate and substantive action to solicit industry comments that will result in a resolution accurately reflecting the intent of 116 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / SEPTEMBER 2013 / the industry group – Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking Committee (C-DAC) – that OSHA itself assembled to develop this rule. Members of the original committee have repeatedly said it was not their intent to require operators to be certified by capacity in the way that OSHA has since viewed it.” Contacted in August, NCCCO said its view hasn’t changed. Bill Waylett has worked with ISA since 2004 on cranesafety training. His company (Lou Wyble is his co-partner), BL Consulting (Stuart, FL), currently offers the required training to receive certification to OSHA standards. Waylett views the postponement as extremely simple. Too many people are failing the tests, and the construction unions are pressuring Congress for relief. Closer to home, most sign-company trainees are failing as well. On the practical portion of the testing, which involves four tasks, most operators fail the fourth component, which requires moving a heavy load through a zig-zag course without having the load hit bordering cones or the ground. “The problem is, most operators use tag lines to control their loads, and have not learned to control the load with crane controls,” Waylett explained. “On the test, you can’t use tag lines. Also, we’ve asked in training sessions about use of the crane charts. Few sign-industry operators use them, even though every crane manufacturer provides them. We’ve asked people how they know if a load is safe to lift. Some say, ‘Well, if the crane starts to tilt, we put the load back down’.” Unfortunately, the written portion requires use of crane charts to pass, and some operators struggle because of their education: limited writing/comprehension skills, and few study or test-taking skills. These issues hamper the construction industry as well. “We had to add a component on how to study and take tests. These guys haven’t taken tests in 20 or 30 years. They’re often in unfamiliar territory,” Waylett adds. “I even had the owner of a sign company ask me if I could guarantee that his people would pass. Well, if they listen and pay attention, probably. We do have a 90% pass rate.” As for those operators who have already been certified, Waylett says there’s no chance that their certification will be extended beyond the normal five years, because of the delay in mandatory certification. However, he adds that the recertification process is significantly less rigorous than the original certification testing. For example, there’s no “practical” testing, and the written portion has fewer questions. ■

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - September 2013

Signs of the Times - September 2013
ST Update
Technology Update
Who Uses the Phone Book?
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Commercial
Lighting Techniques
The Moving Message
Technology Review - DGS 3D POP store system
Technology Review - KIP C7800 poster printer
Design Matters
New Products
When the Cheering Starts
Enter the ST Intl. Sign Contest!
Starting at the Bottom
LED Lamps for Box/Cabinet Signs
The Aria’s 260-ft. Pylon Sign
Industry News
Advertising index
Editorially speaking

Signs of the Times - September 2013