And OSHA’s final rule on crane operator certification.

Recently, Governor Newsome provided a snapshot of California’s budget and unveiled a number of ambitious (and sometimes troubling) initiatives in the budget. One of the most significant for our industry is that the Governor is proposing substantial housing policy changes. Newsome is proposing linking the receipt of Senate Bill (SB) 1 funding to local jurisdictions’ abilities to meet his increased housing production targets. (SCCA’s Legislative Committee is aware of and is currently tracking this issue on behalf of SCCA.)

Tied to this is that Newsome plans to give the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development a greater role in overseeing and enforcing regional housing goals and production.

Another important budget policy being proposed by Newsome is further incentivizing the creation of Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs) to support longer-term infrastructure commitments.

EIFDs were created by SB 628 in 2014 and further refined by Assembly Bill 313 in 2015. The 2015 modifications included expanding the type of projects that can be funded by EIFDs and lowering the voter approval requirements from a two-thirds vote to 55 percent approval by voters.

It’s critical that SCCA be involved in this Initiative so we can assist in shaping how the funds from EIFDs are spent, ensuring the monies are spent in a timely manner on the delivery of infrastructure projects and safeguarding them from being used for other purposes.

Newsome allocated $168.5 million in Proposition 68 funds for safe water drinking projects and $27 million towards workforce development for apprentices for a green economy. Both could benefit our Industry but it hinges on how these programs are crafted.

In addition, Newsome’s budget provides $18 million to expand the “Healthy Soils Program.” The Healthy Soils Initiative is a multi-agency effort at the state level to find innovative solutions to build soil carbon and reduce greenhouse emissions. Currently, the focus of this Initiative is on agricultural activities, but this could change because one of the Initiative’s components is looking at the viability of biochar as a soil amendment.

Additionally, the State’s Department of General Services is looking at demonstrating best practices in building organic soil matter in urban landscape settings as well as actively diverting organic waste from state facilities and from landfills. These goals could easily impact landscape contractors. The California Air Resources Board and the Water Board are also looking at the Healthy Soil Initiatives for ways to develop objectives to achieve California’s 2030 Greenhouse Gas Target Plan.

Another budget Initiative is the proposed creation of an Office of Digital Innovation (ODI) to make State government more efficient in the delivery of services. The initial start-up cost for the ODI is $36.2 million. (Ninety-four percent of this funding is from the State’s General Fund.)

The ODI will have 50 positions. One of its tasks will be developing and conducting the Innovation Academy. Newsome is proposing that Academy attendance be mandatory for executive management, senior management, and lead supervisors employed by state agencies. The Innovation Academy would focus on continuous process improvement, human change management, executive sponsorships, and putting the customer first.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in Newsome’s budget was his move to make a one-time payment of $3 billion to reduce the unfunded pension liabilities in the State Teachers’ Retirement Fund.

Crane Operators Must Be Certified

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) final ruling on certification for crane operators became effective November 10, 2018. (In November 2017, OSHA decided to delay making this rule effective for one year.) OSHA’s final rule on crane operator qualifications includes a three-step approach – training, certification, and evaluation. Here are some of the requirements:

  • Effective immediately, crane operators must be certified and the certification must be issued by an accredited certifying organization such as the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).
  • Certification can be by type only rather than by type and capacity.
  • Effective February 7, 2019, employers must evaluate their operators to ensure they have the skills and knowledge necessary to operate the crane(s) they are assigned. This includes accounting for the crane’s size, configuration, and hoisting activities.
  • The training and evaluation must include that the crane operator is able to recognize and avert risk.
  • Employers can use existing evaluations for crane operators only if the crane operator was employed and evaluated before December 10, 2018.
  • The evaluation must be documented. Additionally, the evaluation(s) must be made available at the worksite. The evaluation form must include the name of the operator, the name of the evaluator, the evaluator’s signature, and date of the evaluation, as well as the make, model, and configuration of the crane.
  • Employers are still responsible for the training and retraining of operators and must ensure their operators have adequate formal and practical instruction. (My recommendation would be to document this training and have it included in the employee’s personnel folder.)
  • Operators who are not certified yet must be classified as Operators-in-Training. Operators-in-Training are allowed to operate cranes without being certified with certain restrictions and must be continuously monitored.

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