October 2010, Edison Electrical Institute (EEI) provided to OSHA clarification of digger derrick work in the electric-utility industry. EEI explained that when a digger derrick is used to install a pole, it is typical that the same digger derrick is used to install pad-mount transformers as part of the same power system as the poles. The Cranes and Derricks Standard was written to exclude the pole work but not the pad-mounted transformer installation. This would require digger derrick operators to obtain certification if using the digger derrick when installing pad-mounted transformers.
After review of EEI’s documentation, OSHA broadened the digger derrick exemption in November 2012 by publishing the direct final rule and a companion proposed rule. Only one comment was received and OSHA determined it to be a “significant adverse comment” and issued a withdrawl of the broadened exemption in Feb. 2013.
The commenter was concerned that the proposed rule exempted riggers and signalperson from working with digger derricks, therefore decreasing worker safety. After further investigation OSHA agreed that the commenter did not provide adequate information. The commenter noted 7 incidents where they believed having riggers and signalpersons present would have prevented the incidents. OSHA determined that the incidents did not relate to pad-mounted transformer installation and therefore issued the purposed rule in June 2013.
You may have heard people referencing OSHA Subpart CC or the OSHA 1926.1400 standards for cranes and derricks. Effective in 2010, this new rule updated the requirements for this equipment used in construction.
Digger derricks were exempted in the preamble of the rule when used in operations or maintenance activities and when used for auguring holes or setting poles. After the rule’s release, Edison Electric Institute (EEI) petitioned OSHA to expand its exemption to all digger derrick operations covered by Subpart V, which accounted for an additional 5 percent of the work performed by digger derricks.
However, OSHA received a significant adverse comment on the direct final rule and in February 2013, the agency withdrew the direct final rule. Instead, OSHA will follow its normal rule-making procedures by issuing the expanded exemption through the negotiated rulemaking process.
As it stands now, the digger derrick exemption has no change as of the August 2010 ruling, which states:
Digger derricks when used for augering holes for poles carrying electric and telecommunication lines, placing and removing the poles, and for handling associated materials to be installed on or removed from the poles. Digger derricks used in work subject to 29 CFR part 1926, subpart V, must comply with 29 CFR 1910.269. Digger derricks used in construction work for telecommunication service (as defined at 29 CFR 1910.268(s)(40)) must comply with 29 CFR 1910.268.
For a full recap of the digger derrick exemption request and the subsequent process, read this article at regulations.gov.
To read about the revised exemption and its withdrawal from the direct final rule:
November 2012: http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=23516