Will the new crane rule limit workers' compensation claims?

Construction accidents in California involving cranes have had devastating consequences in the past. Many families were left having to rely on the death benefits paid by the workers' compensation insurance program. In some of those instances, investigators determined that unqualified crane operators caused the accidents.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently published the new final rule for crane operators, effective from Dec. 9, 2018. The safety agency aims to ensure that only certified workers execute crane-related activities. The goal is to reduce the previous rule's compliance burdens while continuing to protect the health and safety of workers.

The previous rule of 2010 allowed operators only to work on cranes with the specific lifting capacity for which they are certified. In contrast, under the new rule, employers must provide adequate training in the operation of a particular type of crane, evaluate operators' abilities and document each operator's successful evaluation completion. There will no longer be a limit as to the lifting capacity for which an operator is certified.

It will have to be seen whether this easing of the compliance burden will prevent construction site accidents that involve cranes. Regardless, victims of on-the-job accidents will not have to bear the financial burden of medical expenses and lost wages alone. The California workers' compensation insurance program will provide financial relief, and an attorney with experience in this field can assist with the navigation of the benefits claims process. Families who have lost loved ones in such accidents might be eligible for survivors' benefits that will cover end-of-life expenses and lost income.

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