Letter to Crane Employers

The following letter was mailed to possible crane employers on March 1, 2019, informing them of the need to certify their crane operators with the State of Hawaii Hoisting Machine Operators Advisory Board if their crane operators do any kind of construction work.

March 1, 2019

Re: We are writing to you because you may employ crane operators

You should know that your crane operators must be certified by the State of Hawaii if they perform any kind of construction work.

This is true even if your crane operators do this work only once or twice a year. Following are some frequently asked questions and answers.

What is Construction Work?
OSHA’s regulations define construction work as “construction, alteration, and/or repair, including painting and decorating.”1 Section 1910.12(a) further provides that OSHA’s construction industry standards apply “to every employment and place of employment of every employee engaged in construction work.”

Construction work is not limited to new construction, but can include the repair of existing facilities or the replacement of structures and their components. For example, the replacement of one utility pole with a new, identical pole would be maintenance; however, if it were replaced with an improved pole, it would be considered construction.

When is maintenance work defined as construction work?
While there is no regulatory definition of maintenance, repair or refurbishment, OSHA will consider such work to be construction: 1) when it goes beyond “one-for-one” replacement; 2) if the scale and complexity are more than minor; 3) if the size of the object being repaired or maintained makes the works large scale and more complex; 4) if the components of the material are substantially different or improve over the original.

OSHA will classify the activity as construction: “…where an activity cannot be easily classified as construction or maintenance, even when measured against the above factors, the activity should be classified so as to allow application of the more protective 1910 or 1926 standard, depending on the hazard.” (8/11/1994 memo for regional administrators)

We do landscaping and tree trimming, do my crane operators need to be certified?
Yes, if they perform any work that could be considered as construction. While landscaping and tree trimming is classified as “general industry”, your crane operators should be certified if they perform work that could be classified as construction.

We are in a maritime business, do my crane operators need to be certified?
Maybe. Maritime cargo handling is not subject to Hawaii’s occupational and health jurisdiction. However, if your crane operators perform construction work or maintenance work that goes beyond routine, then your crane operators should be certified.

I sometimes use a crane to do customized work for a construction contractor at my place of business. Do my crane operators need to be certified?
Yes, if your work is customized and not sold to the general public, OSHA considers you to be a subcontractor and are subject to the same rules as a construction site.

When in doubt, it is better to have your crane operators certified by the State of Hawaii.
It is best to be proactive and certify your crane operators with the State of Hawaii. It is not enough to have a national certification such as the NCCCO.

Are there other benefits in having my crane operators certified by the State of Hawaii?
Yes, you will have assurance that your operators are medically fit to operate a crane and they have no criminal history that would affect their job. However, the physical examination only needs to be current at the time of application and may not cover the entire period of certification (which can be up to five years). The criminal history check is only for Hawaii and does not include federal or other state criminal records.

In addition, applicants self-disclose whether they have any other physical, mental, or emotional impairment, whether they use drugs or have an alcohol condition, and whether they have been involved in any accidents involving a hoisting machine.

OSHA issued final rules on crane operator certification which took effect on December 9, 2018. Do my crane operators still need to be certified by the State of Hawaii?
Yes, until Hawaii rules are changed, your crane operators will still need a valid certification issued by the Hoisting Machine Operators Advisory Board (HMOAB).

How do I certify my operators?
The Hoisting Machine Operators Advisory Board (Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations) is charged with the responsibility of certifying crane operators in the State of Hawaii. Operators can apply online at https://hmoab.hawaii.gov or complete and mail your application https://hmoab.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/New-App5-Certification-Form-revised-01-19.pdf.

The fee is $100.00 per year of certification plus a one-time application fee of $50 for first time applicants.

If there are any further questions, you can contact the HMOAB at (808) 586-8146 or email [email protected] .


Melvin Chang
Executive Assistant
Hoisting Machine Operators Advisory Board