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Montana State Hoisting License Requirements

To operate a crane you need to submit certain documents including a copy of you Nationally Accredited Crane Certification.

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Higher OSHA fines coming for violations at workplaces
Companies next year could be paying significantly more for workplace violations cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the first time in 25 years. A provision that allows OSHA to hike maximum penalties by about 78 percent was quietly added by Congress into the budget bill signed by President Barack Obama on Nov. 2. It ties the highest dollar - amount the agency can charge employers to October’s rate of inflation.
Currently, maximum fines are tied to the consumer price index in 1990. The legislative mandate does not necessarily mean the federal agency will raise fees the maximum amount by the effective date of Aug. 1, 2016. But, given that a hike has been long sought by OSHA Chief David Michaels, many believe it’s likely the increase will be substantial.
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The agency sees the move as putting some bite back into fines that have not been large enough to actually change company behavior. Others say this could lay the groundwork for more battles by companies shocked by the higher fees. So far this year, OSHA has found 599 cases nationwide have warranted total initial penalties of $40,000 or more, with a total of more than $54 million put together, according to the agency’s online database, accessed Tuesday. Those initial penalties are not all final, as companies can choose to contest them.

Pennsylvania employers were involved in 20 of those cases totaling about $3 million in initial penalties, according to the database. Violations include on-the-job fatalities, outdated equipment and improper training.The state’s largest initial penalty this year of $490,000 was issued to York, Pa.-based environmental services firm First Capital Insulation Inc. for failing to properly protect its employees while they removed asbestos from a building in Harrisburg. The company is contesting the fine. By law, penalty money collected by OSHA goes to a general Treasury Department fund, not directly to OSHA activities.

Mr. Michaels told a House workforce protections committee in 2010 that “unscrupulous employers often consider it more cost effective to pay the minimal OSHA penalty and continue to operate an unsafe workplace than to correct the underlying health and safety problem.”Current penalties range from a few thousand dollars for an “other-than-serious” violation to a maximum of $70,000 for a “willful” violation. It’s a price that, even though they often completely disagree with a citation from OSHA, businesses will pay because it’s easier than contesting, said James Curtis, a labor and employment lawyer with Chicago-based Seyfarth Shaw LLP. “Whether the citations are correct or incorrect, a lot of employers view it as a cost of doing business in [the] U.S.,” Mr. Curtis said.

Martin Saunders, an employment lawyer with Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in Canonsburg, said businesses here are likely to view higher fines as an emphasis on penalizing, rather than cooperating with, employers to abate unsafe working conditions. “With the fines being increased, OSHA may find that it will be spending a lot more time in hearings,” Mr. Saunders said. “Employers will be more likely to fight a citation than go along with a reduced fine.” Particularly vulnerable to an increase in penalties are small to midsize employers that oversee inherently dangerous workplaces — construction, manufacturing, mining, utilities, and oil and gas extraction.

Brian Turmail, senior executive director of public affairs for the Associated General Contractors of America, the trade association for construction contractors, said higher fines are a reality his members will accept. But he said construction companies are frustrated to see more money being spent on fines when they want more guidance on how to handle pressing safety issues, such as the severe labor shortage that is putting more inexperienced workers on hazardous work sites. In 2014, the construction industry accounted for one-fifth of all workplace fatalities, according to the

Bureau of Labor Statistics. OSHA should direct its efforts away from a “cops-and-robbers approach” and place more emphasis on education and preventative measures to help employers comply with complex regulations, he said. “There’s this real misconception the amount you fine equals your success rate,” Mr. Turmail said. “When you understand the point of an agency like OSHA — which is to work with employers and employees around the country to make sure they’re never exposed to harmful conditions — how much you fine is actually a measure of your failure.”

Mr. Michaels said in his 2010 testimony an increase was needed to bring OSHA fines in line with what other federal agencies are allowed to assess. He noted the U.S. Department of Agriculture is authorized to fine milk processors up to $130,000 for failing to pay their part to help advertise and research their products. The Federal Communications Commission can fine a TV or radio station up to $325,000 for indecent content.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can impose a penalty of $270,000 for violations of the Clean Air Act. Meanwhile, the maximum penalty OSHA can charge for a willful violation — even one that results in the death of a worker — is $70,000. If the maximum amount is increased, the new penalty cap will be $124,709.In a written statement, Jordan Barab, OSHA deputy assistant secretary, said the agency’s “current penalties are clearly not strong enough to provide adequate incentives, and some employers see them as simply the ‘cost of doing business.’ ” “OSHA appreciates Congress’ recognition of this challenge and we are closely studying this recently passed legislation to see how it can best be used to enhance the protection of American workers,” Mr. Barab said.

Dr. Michaels testifies before Congress on OSHA's efforts to improve workplace safety and health
In testimony to the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections on Oct. 7, Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels described how, with limited resources, OSHA achieves its mission through a balanced approach of standards, compliance assistance, enforcement, outreach and whistleblower protection.
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"We recognize that most employers want to keep their employees safe and make great efforts to protect them from workplace hazards," Dr. Michaels told the committee. "Our enforcement program specifically targets the most dangerous workplaces, where workers are most likely to be hurt on the job, and the most recalcitrant employers. For those employers who need technical assistance, we provide free on-site consultations to small employers, as well as other compliance assistance, educational materials and training."

Dr. Michaels also detailed challenges in addressing the changing structure of employment relationships, such as the dramatic increase in temporary workers in virtually every type of workplace. Unless properly managed, these structural employment changes greatly increase risks of injuries and illnesses among all the workers in these workplaces.

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