Skip Navigation

Course 820 - Crane and Derrick Safety I

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Employer and Employee Responsibilities

Must the controlling entity establish a system to coordinate the operations of two cranes that operate within each other's working radius?

Controlling Employers

The employer that is a prime contractor, general contractor, construction manager or any other legal entity which has the overall responsibility for the construction of the project (its planning, quality and completion) is considered the controlling employer, sometimes called the controlling entity.

  • The controlling entity is responsible for seeing that the ground conditions are adequate to support the equipment.
  • The controlling entity must also inform the user and the operator of the equipment of the location of hazards beneath the equipment set-up area (such as voids, tanks, utilities) if those hazards are identified in documents (such as site drawings, as-built drawings, and soil analyses) in the possession of the controlling entity (whether at the site or off-site) or of any other hazards known to the controlling entity.
  • The controlling entity must also establish a system to coordinate the operations of two cranes that operate within each other's working radius.

Responsibility of the Company Operating the Crane

Although the controlling entity is responsible for providing adequate ground conditions, the company operating the crane will often be better able than the controlling entity to determine whether those conditions are adequate. If you are operating a crane and decide that ground conditions are inadequate, you must discuss the problem with the controlling entity and see that the problem is corrected before beginning or continuing operations.

Must a qualified person have the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project?

Qualified Person

This is a person who has earned a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or has extensive knowledge, training and experience. This is also a person that has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.

  • Numerous duties must be carried out by a person who meets this definition. These include conducting annual/comprehensive inspections of all equipment as well as inspections of modified equipment.
  • The assembly/disassembly (A/D) director must be a qualified person as well as a competent person.
  • A qualified person also is responsible for duties under various provisions of the standard, including those dealing with developing assembly/disassembly procedures, wire rope safety, fall protection, maintenance and repair, hoisting personnel, multiple crane/derrick lifts, equipment modifications, tower cranes, derricks, and floating cranes/derricks.

Competent Person

Competent vs. Qualified Person - Source: OR-OSHA
Click to Enlarge

This is the person who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

  • A competent person must conduct shift and monthly inspections of all equipment.
  • The A/D director must meet the test for a competent person.

In addition, duties under the sections of this standard governing Operations, Hoisting Personnel, Multiple Crane/Derrick Lifts, Derricks, and Floating Cranes must be carried out by competent persons. In general, a qualified crane operator who has the authority to take corrective measures will be a competent person.

Click on the table on the right to see the requirements for a competent and qualified person in each of the OSHA construction standards.

Crane Owners Operating Leased Cranes


If you are an employer operating a leased crane, you are responsible for complying with all requirements of the OSHA standard. Even if the lessor states that the crane meets the standard, you must take steps to verify that claim.

  • One way to verify their claim is to ask the lessor for the most recent monthly and annual inspections reports, which will identify any problems found by the inspectors that either needed to be fixed or that need to be checked in future inspections.
  • These documents must be made available to all persons who conduct inspections under the standard, including the shift inspections you must conduct while operating the crane.
  • If the lessor cannot produce the required inspection documents, you will need to conduct a thorough inspection and document the results of that inspection before operating the crane.

Crane Owners Operating Leased Cranes

crane operator
Is the employer responsible for any violations caused by the crane operator?

If you lease a crane to a contractor on the construction site, you must comply with all requirements of the OSHA crane standard because your employee, the operator, would be exposed to hazards resulting from the crane's operation.

Moreover, you are responsible for any violations caused by the crane operator because you are the operator's employer and the lessee is relying on the operator's knowledge and skills to ensure that operations are conducted safely.

If you do not provide an operator with the crane, but provide maintenance on the crane when needed, your maintenance person must be qualified and you are responsible for any hazards that result from the actions of your mechanic that expose other workers on the site to hazards. In addition, you are responsible for any violations to which your mechanic is exposed while he/she is working on the crane.

If you are contractor on a construction site and another contractor is using a crane on the site, yet none of your work involves the crane, you still have responsibilities because your employees may be exposed to hazards caused by the crane's operation. For example, if a crane collapses due to being overloaded, employees working elsewhere on the site can be killed or injured. And if, for example, a crane makes electrical contact with a power line, any employee touching or even near the crane can be electrocuted.

Even though you are not operating the crane, you must be aware of potential crane hazards and are responsible for protecting your employees against hazards you can reasonably foresee. You must take reasonable steps to protect your employees. For example, if you are concerned with a crane's stability due to potential overloading, unstable ground conditions, or high winds, you must satisfy yourself that the crane is stable before allowing your employees to work where they would be in danger if the crane collapses.

One way is to ask the company operating the crane or the controlling contractor on the site whether all necessary precautions are being taken to ensure the crane's stability. Also, you have a duty to train your employees in the hazards associated with their work, including those that might arise from working near a crane.

crane employee
Though this employee is not working with the crane, is the employer still responsible to ensure the employee understands the hazards associated with working around the crane?"

All Contractors and Crane Owners

All employers must train construction workers how to recognize and avoid the hazards associated with their work and, depending on the circumstances, may require training in topics not listed in the cranes and derricks standard.

All contractors and owners must provide training as appropriate to equipment operators, signal persons, competent and qualified persons, maintenance and repair workers, and workers who work near the equipment.

Where provisions of the crane standard direct an operator, crewmember, or other employee to take certain actions, you must establish, effectively communicate to the relevant persons, and enforce work rules to ensure compliance with such provisions.

articulated crane
If this articulating crane places the load on the ground and does not arrange anything, does the standard apply to it?

Crane Owners Delivering Materials

If the owners of cranes that deliver sheet goods (such as drywall or plywood) or packaged goods (such as roofing shingles, bags of cement, or rolls of roofing felt) to a construction site using a flatbed truck equipped with an articulating crane and only place materials on the ground without arranging the materials in a particular order for hoisting, OSHA does not consider them engaged in construction work and they have no duties under the standard.

If equipment places materials onto the structure, OSHA considers the activity as construction work, and the standard applies to your work.

Refer to Module 1.7 for specific requirements for employers that deliver materials to the construction site.

General Contractors

As the general contractor do you need to inform the crane operator of the location of hazards?

If you are the general contractor on a project:

  • You are responsible for seeing that the ground on which the crane will operate is sufficiently firm and level to enable the crane to operate safely.
  • You must inform the crane operator of the location of hazards beneath the equipment set-up area (such as voids, tanks, utilities) if those hazards are identified in documents (such as site drawings, as-built drawings, or soil analyses) that are in your possession or the hazards are otherwise known to you.
  • If there is more than one crane on the site and the working radii of the cranes overlap, you must establish a system to control their operations.
  • As the controlling contractor on the site you have the same responsibility under this standard as you have under other OSHA standards: you must exercise reasonable care to prevent and detect violations on the site.

Crane Operator Responsibilities

This crane operator isn’t letting anything distract him from his responsibilities.

Crane operators should be certified before they can operate a crane on their own. There are generally two options for certification:

  1. certification by a nationally accredited crane operator testing organization, or
  2. certification by an audited employer program.

Crane operators’ responsibilities include:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s procedures for operating the crane and the attachments.
  • Keep the operator’s manual and all procedures for operating the crane (such as load charts, recommended operating speeds, and hazard warnings) in the cab and readily available.
  • Don’t do anything distracting, such as texting or talking on a mobile phone, while operating the crane.
  • Don’t leave the controls while the load is suspended.
  • Before starting the engine, verify that all controls are in the proper position and workers are in the clear.
  • If crane adjustments or repairs are necessary, inform, in writing, the person responsible for receiving the information and the operator on the next shift.
  • Don’t operate a crane beyond its rated capacity.
  • Don’t use a crane to drag or pull loads sideways.
  • Don’t let the boom and any other parts of a crane contact an obstruction.
  • Don’t lift loads over the front area of wheel-mounted cranes unless the manufacturer permits it.
  • When handling a load that is 90 percent or more of the maximum line pull, test the brakes by lifting the load a few inches and applying the brakes; repetitive lifts of such loads need to be tested only the first time.
  • Don’t lower the load or the boom below the point where fewer than two full wraps of rope remain on their respective drums.
  • Control the crane’s rotational speed so that the load doesn’t swing out beyond the radius.
  • Use a tag line if necessary to prevent a load from turning excessively.
  • Refuse to handle potentially hazardous loads. A crane operator concerned about hazards involving a crane can refuse to handle loads until a qualified person determines there isn’t a hazard or the hazard has been corrected.
  • Stop a multiple-crane lift. The crane operator and the lift director have the authority to stop a multiple-crane lift if either determines the lift can’t be done according to the lift plan.

Maintenance and Repair Worker Qualifications


Maintenance and repair workers must meet the requirements for a qualified person regarding their maintenance and repair tasks. They are allowed to operate cranes to do maintenance work, to do an inspection, or to verify that the crane is working properly.

When operating a crane, they must be supervised by a qualified operator who meets the requirements of 1926.1427, and is familiar with the crane’s operation, characteristics, and hazards.

Maintenance and repair workers must not operate a crane during regular operations unless they are qualified under 1926.1427, Operator Qualification and Certification.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. If the employer leasing a crane cannot produce the required inspection documents verifying the crane meets the OSHA standard, the employer operating the crane must _____.

2. As an employer, if you are not operating the crane on the project, you are required to be aware of _____.

3. Certain provisions of the standard direct employees, such as a crane operator, to take certain steps. What responsibility does an employer have under such provisions?

4. If a subcontractor notifies the general contractor that a crane is being brought to the worksite, what is a responsibility of the general contractor?

5. A(n) _____ is one who demonstrates the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or a project.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.