In letters to Washington State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and State Rep. Steve Conway sent this week, American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) president Donald S. Jones Sr., PE, CSP, expressed support for increased oversight of cranes on worksites by the Washington Department of Occupational Safety and Health, yet urged legislators to take a different approach then what is being presented in new crane safety legislation.

The bill in question, sponsored by Conway in the House and Kohl-Welles in the Senate, would establish a crane certification for cranes used in construction, which would entail a number of safety requirements that the crane owner must fulfill. The legislation responds to the death of a Bellevue apartment dweller from a falling crane last year. “With all the construction going on in Seattle, the Eastside, and across the state, the potential for another accident is still present,” said Kohl-Welles, the chair of the Senate Labor, Commerce, Research & Development Committee. “This is a matter of worker and public safety, first and foremost.”

"Our members share the deep concern residents have for the recent fatal crane accidents that have occurred in Washington and the need to increase crane safety," said Jones in the letter. "However, our ASSE members in Washington State with expertise in crane safety have reviewed HB 2171 and SB 5990 relating to crane safety and, although we support the underlying intent of the bill to improve safety, we do not believe the approach taken will effectively accomplish this goal. We urge a simpler approach that would be more in keeping with the highest levels of crane safety that now exists in the industry."

ASSE expressed concern that the overall approach would codify highly technical issues that are not typically addressed in legislation, and urged the continuation of consensus voluntary standards and those in place under OSHA.

The original house bill and its substitute are available from http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2171&year=2007#documents.

The senate bill is available at http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2007-08/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5990.pdf.