The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a new temporary policy taking effect as of April 30, regarding the use of proximity alarms and insulating links on construction cranes operating near electric power lines. The objective of this new temporary rule is to address the lack of proximity alarms or insulating links that comply with OSHA’s standard for construction cranes and derricks.
Proximity alarms warn workers when cranes are too close to power lines. Insulating links/devices typically attach to the crane’s hook and prevent the flow of an electrical current to the boom if the crane’s metal cables or load connect with a power line.
OSHA’s standard for crane safety calls for the use of proximity alarms and insulating links that are approved by an OSHA-designated nationally recognized testing laboratory but so far there have been no laboratory nor equipment endorsed or approved by OSHA. Due to no equipment being approved to be in compliance thus far the temporary policy will be in effect until OSHA revises the rule to address the lack of approved equipment.
OSHA states that employers must not rely solely on a non-laboratory approved alarm or link and instead may use an alarm or link in combination with another appropriate measure. Furthermore OSHA will not cite any employers for violation of the requirement that an insulating link be installed on a line lifting a load if an employer is using an insulating link in addition to other forms of protection such as insulated gloves rated appropriately for the voltage involved. It is important for employers to understand and follow the memorandum’s guidelines to avoid being cited.