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Agencies move on border wall, crane operator certification

Eyeing large scale installations along the Mexico border, the federal government has awarded Caddell Construction Co. of Montgomery, Ala., Fisher Industries of Tempe, Ariz., Texas Sterling Construction of Houston and W.G. Yates & Sons of Philadelphia, Miss., contracts to cast prototypes of 18- to 30-ft. high reinforced concrete walls. The structures will be built in San Diego and allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials to assess their potential to deter illegal crossings and complement wall and barrier designs used along the border in recent years.

The wall program stems from Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements. Issued days after President Donald Trump took office, it states “the [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary shall take steps to immediately plan, design and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border.”

CBP issued a request for proposals in March to acquire conceptual wall designs with the intent to construct multiple prototypes of “concrete” and “other than concrete” design. The agency will partner with industry to identify the best means and methods to construct a border wall. Prototype structures will inform future design standards, which will likely continue to evolve to meet U.S. Border Patrol requirements. Through the prototyping process, officials may identify new designs for a current barrier toolkit that CBP uses to construct a border wall system. 

CRANE OPERATOR CERTIFICATION

True to lifting equipment manufacturer and operator projections, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed a one-year extension of a November 2017 crane operator certification deadline. The additional time will allow agency staff to fix Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard language—added in 2011 and relating to certification by equipment type and capacity—while defining other requirements to ensure certified operators are qualified.

“The language in question revolves around whether operator certification should be according to the capacity of the crane as well as its type, and whether an employer has additional responsibilities for ensuring his or her operators are qualified beyond certifying them,” affirms the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), Fairfax, Va.

OSHA formalized the deadline measure in a Proposed Rule, “Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Operator Certification Extension,” opening it to public comment through mid-November. Officials noted in their announcement of the proposal that members of the agency’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety & Health also unanimously recommended earlier this year that OSHA delay the operator certification compliance date.

NCCCO, along with the labor-management Coalition for Crane Operator Safety and many other stakeholders, concur with the deadline delay. Current language as interpreted by OSHA would not have the desired safety benefits, they note, and is not in line with the intent of the Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee that wrote the original draft of the rule.