Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Aerial/Worksite: New Standards - Digger Derricks

written by By Joshua T. Chard, Ph.D.Director, Product and Corporate Safety, Altec Industries, Inc.

A newly enacted standard for digger derricks will soon be impacting training requirements in the utility and telecommunications industries.

Most digger derrick products in use in the United States are designed, manufactured, tested, and intended to be operated with reference to applicable requirements of the utility and telecommunication industries and national consensus standards. Now, a newly enacted standard for digger derricks will present a new challenge for utility safety professionals.

The new national consensus standard, outlined in ANSI A10.31 2006 Safety Requirements, Definitions and Specifications for Digger Derricks, was approved on April 27, 2006. This revised version of the standard is the first change since 1995. It incorporates many changes, including new requirements for training of operators, for employers and owners, and for manufacturers of digger derricks. Standards from ANSI (the American National Standards Institute/Scaffold Industry Association), SAE Standards and Recommended Practices and other national consensus standards are incorporated by reference into various Federal Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Rules and Regulations. It should be noted by utility safety managers that the user of a digger derrick, such as the employer or employee, is responsible for compliance with the literal requirements of the OSH-Act. From OSHA's standpoint, if a regulation recognizes an ANSI or other national consensus standard, that requirement is binding.

OSHA Rules and Regulations that are relevant to most operations of digger derricks are specifically cited in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910.67 Vehicle-mounted Elevating and Rotating Work Platforms; 29 CFR Subpart R, Special Industries; 1910.268 Telecommunications; 1910.269 Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution; 29 CFR 1926.453 Aerial Lifts; and 29 CFR Subpart V, Power Transmission and Distribution; 1926.952 Mechanical Equipment and 1926.955 Overhead Lines. Additionally, some sections of 1926.550 also apply.

Under the General Industry Tele-communication Standard, training is defined as:

1910.268(c) Training Employers shall provide training in the various precautions and safe practices described in this section and shall ensure that employees do not engage in the activities to which this section applies until such employees have received proper training in the various precautions and safe practices required by this section.

1910.269(a)(2)(i) Training Employees shall be trained in and familiar with the safety-related work practices, safety procedures, and other safety requirements in this section that pertain to their respective job assignments. Employees shall also be trained in and familiar with any other safety practices, including applicable emergency procedures (such as pole top and manhole rescue), that are not specifically addressed by this section but that are related to their work and are necessary for their safety. The newly enacted standard outlines specific requirements for owners of digger derricks and employers of equipment operators:

8.12.2 General Training Only personnel who have received general instructions regarding the inspection, application and operation of digger derricks, including recognition and avoidance of hazards associated with their operation, shall operate a digger derrick. Such items covered shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following issues and requirements:
1. The purpose and use of manuals.
2. That operating manuals are an integral part of the digger derrick and must be properly stored on the vehicle when not in use.
3. A pre-start inspection.
4. Responsibilities associated with problems or malfunctions affecting the operation of the digger derrick.
5. Factors affecting stability.
6. The purpose of placards and decals.
7. Workplace inspection.
8. Applicable safety rules and regulations, such as Part 4, ANSI/IEEE C2, National Electrical Safety Code (applies to utility workers as defined in ANSI/IEEE C2). The above standard is an example; other industries using digger derricks have safety rules pertinent to that industry.
9. Authorization to operate.
10. Operator warnings and instructions.
11. Actual operation of the digger derrick. Under the direction of a qualified person, the trainee shall operate the digger derrick for a sufficient period of time to demonstrate proficiency in the actual operation of the digger derrick.
12. Proper use of personal fall protection equipment when the digger derrick is equipped with a platform(s).

8.12.3 Retraining The operator shall be retrained, when so directed by the user, based on the user's observation and evaluation of the operator.

8.12.4 Familiarization When an operator is directed to operate a digger derrick he is not familiar with, the operator, prior to operating, shall be instructed regarding the following items and issues: 1. The location of the manuals. 2. The purpose and function of all controls. 3. The safety devices and operating characteristics specific to the digger derrick. These requirements for training appear general and may leave safety professionals with training responsibilities wondering where to begin. Often, OSHA will reference a national consensus standard for additional information when regulations are not specific. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the owner or employer to determine who is qualified to operate this equipment. In fact, OSHA can cite employers for failing to follow a consensus standard under what is referred to as the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. For example, under SEC. 5. Duties, "(a) Each employer (1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees." The standard has new training-related requirements for manufacturers as well. Section 6.10 Training and Training Materials, says "Manufacturers shall develop and offer training materials that aid dealers, owners, installers and users in the operation, inspection, testing and maintenance of the digger derrick." The manuals provided by digger derrick manufacturers provide important specific instructions and warnings to help meet the requirements discussed in the new standard. Many manufacturers also provide safety and operation videos and computer-based training aids. The material presented in these training programs is intended to assist persons in understanding the basic concepts of safe and efficient maintenance of their equipment.

These programs alone are not necessarily sufficient to certify or qualify any person as an operator of digger derrick equipment. Additional general skills and training in the basic use of mobile hydraulic equipment and a thorough practical understanding of the actual unit being used and the contents of the Operators and Maintenance Manual is required. The new standard means that companies with digger derricks will have new operator training requirements to meet. Proper operator training is not only important to meet the requirements of standards, though. It is the right thing to do from an ethical and a business perspective. A properly trained operator is less likely to be injured, injure others or damage equipment or property. ip

Editor's Note: Copies of the complete ANSI A10.31 2006 Safety Requirements, Definitions and Specifications for Digger Derricks standard are available from the American Society of Safety Engineers, 1800 East Oakton Street, Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-2187, (847) 699-2929 or at

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