OSHA Requirements for Riggers

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A crane at a construction site
A crane at a construction site (Image: unkas_photo/iStock/Getty Images)

Rigging is the use of cranes or other large equipment to lift and move heavy objects. Riggers are generally employed on building sites, where they operate cranes to lift building materials to the upper levels of the building. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, regulates rigging work and sets procedures and requirements for rigging equipment and for people to work as riggers. The OSHA rigging regulations can be found in OSHA Standard 1926.

Qualified Rigger

According to OSHA, it is the responsibility of the employer to determine whether a person is qualified to be a rigger. Having a degree, certificate or professional accreditation as a rigger is one way to qualify as a rigger. Formal qualification or certification in rigging is not required, as long as the employer can show the rigger has knowledge, experience and training in rigging and can demonstrate that he can solve rigging problems. Employers are not required to have riggers independently tested or assessed.

Special Qualifications

Riggers are required to be able to rig a load for the given circumstances. This means that a rigger may be qualified, according to OSHA standards, for rigging one type of load, but not another type of load. For example, a rigger who has extensive experience in structural rigging, but little experience in rigging unstable or uneven loads, may not be considered qualified to operate a rig carrying an unstable load. OSHA stipulates that it is the employers' responsibility to ensure that the rigger is qualified for the particular job demanded of him.

When Qualification is Required

In some circumstances, OSHA requires employers to always use qualified riggers. These include any hoisting activities relating to the assembly and disassembly of the rig. Qualified riggers must also be used whenever there will be other workers inside the fall zone. The fall zone is the area directly under a load. Qualified riggers must also be used whenever workers will be guiding a load, hooking and unhooking a load or connecting a load to a structure while it is still attached to the rig.

Certification

Certification may qualify a person to be a rigger. There are many certification programs available that meet the OSHA certification standards, and some employers send their riggers through a certification course to make sure they comply with OSHA regulations. Certification courses generally last from a few days to a few weeks and cover areas such as slings, knots, signalling, load control and safety issues. They also include both written and practical exams. Certified crane operators may also meet OSHA requirements for a qualified rigger, as long as the operator has the necessary experience in rigging.

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