Recapping SC&RA’s advocacy initiatives in 2023

04 December 2023

In the pursuit of improved safety, efficiency, productivity and profitability for SC&RA member companies, the Association advocates throughout the year on the industry’s behalf to state and local officials as well as worldwide governing bodies and policy makers. As a result, SC&RA member companies benefit from exemptions in regulation, improvements in state and local permitting and consistent representation across a diverse range of industry topics.

This year’s Crane & Rigging workshop in Oklahoma City saw nearly 700 attendees.

“From thirty thousand feet, our advocacy initiatives never stop,” CEO Joel Dandrea said. “And because the regulatory process often moves slowly, we maintain ongoing dialogue with our members, committees and our board of directors to constantly identify priorities and effectively serve as the voice of the industry.”

Acknowledging that 2023 was an extremely productive year for SC&RA, Dandrea pointed out that, among a robust list of victories, SC&RA played a key role as part of a team contracted by the Federal Highway Administration to implement supply chain resiliency strategies during and after natural disasters for a now-completed guide.

“We also weighed in with a broad industry coalition and signed onto a letter in July encouraging the Biden Administration to help avoid a UPS strike that had the potential to cripple the national supply chain,” he said.

Moreover, Dandrea recognized that the Foundation (SC&RF) delivered a completed draft of its much-anticipated Public Benefits Analysis Report, which will help support SC&RA’s advocacy strategy moving forward.

And on the membership side, he was quick to mention that the Association retained over 92 percent of its members from 2022, and by the looks of member engagement in 2023, member loyalty and interest continues to meet and exceed pre-pandemic numbers.

Jason Bell, Director, Membership, agreed. “A great example: we saw a hundred and eighty first-time attendees at the Workshop in September. I think everyone is hungry for new business and, across generations, people are understanding the total value that utilizing an SC&RA membership brings.”

Of note, said Bell, “Coming up, something members will want to pay attention to is that we’ve overhauled our awards program. The questions and the requirements will stay the same, but the process to submit applications should improve significantly. Members will see that process open for 2024 awards on January first, and we encourage all members to apply for the appropriate awards for their business.

Necessary changes

Notable wins for SC&RA on the crane and rigging side were steady throughout 2023. Through its participation in the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, the Association was signatory to formal comments submitted to OSHA on the “Use of Leading Indicators.” The comments urged OSHA to recognize the impact on small businesses and to develop/create tools that can be applied across industry regardless of jobsite size and different construction sectors.

SC&RA members have continued to host productive in-person industry roundtables with Oklahoma DOT and Colorado DOT during major SC&RA and WASHTO 2023 events.

At the international level, SC&RA, along with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), hosted the International Crane Stakeholders Assembly in March, and not only examined global industry issues like cyber security and the right to repair, but agreed to develop new guidance documents addressing crane operations around powerlines, asymmetrical outriggers, lift planning and training of personnel.

According to Beth O’Quinn, SC&RA Sr. Vice President, Crane & Rigging, SC&RA worked with AEM and the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators in writing letters to the Virginia General Assembly in opposition to H.B. 1392 and S.B. 840 – which would have created unnecessary regulations on crane activities in Virginia.

“Ultimately, we established the language proposed in this bill was in direct conflict with ASME [American Society of Mechanical Engineers] standards that have long been the national safety standard for the industry,” she indicated. “Specifically, the language proposed adding new roles, ‘Safety Engineer’ and ‘Project Manager’, that are not identified in the ASME B30 standards. (Both the Virginia Senate and House have now passed this issue by indefinitely.)

On the Hours of Service (HOS) front, O’Quinn pointed out that the five-year exemption (through 2023) SC&RA had previously acquired from FMCSA for the 30-minute rest break for drivers operating mobile cranes with a rated lifting capacity of greater than 30 tons is no longer needed. “The agency heard our concerns and made necessary changes to the regulations that no longer necessitate an exemption,” she said. “However, SC&RA’s separate exemption for permitted loads remains in effect until 2025.”

O’Quinn also explained that SC&RA committees and task forces have been busy in 2023 developing resources addressing key safety issues including best practices for tower crane procedures, a boom dolly safety e-learning module and a resource focusing on the types and selection of supporting materials for mobile cranes. Additionally, the Understanding Mobile Crane Bare Rental Agreements guide will be available by the end of the year.

Paying off

On the transportation side, SC&RA sponsored and attended the annual Trucking Association Executives Council meeting in Rhode Island in July. The organization, constituted by the executives of all 50 state trucking associations, enables SC&RA to build grass-roots coalition support nationwide with boots-on-the-ground efforts in individual states.

Within a busy year on the crane & rigging side for 2023, SC&RA was also busy developing resources addressing key safety issues, including best practices for tower crane procedures, a boom dolly safety e-learning module and a resource focusing on supporting materials for mobile cranes.

The Association also filed comments to the Federal Register in support of FMCSA’s changes to its CSA Safety Management System policies, noting that while industry remains concerned at the pace of federal rulemaking, the specific changes to SMS are welcome as a more accurate and equitable way to report the safety performance of specialized carriers.

And harmonization remained a key focus throughout 2023, said Chris Smith, Vice President, Transportation. To that end, he pointed to a Permit Policy Committee meeting in 2022 that prioritized five states that require more attention than others. “We still have our national permit harmonization and automation campaigns, but from that meeting, we thought we could make significant progress this year in Massachusetts, Utah, California, North Carolina and Iowa.”

According to Smith, Iowa didn’t disappoint. “The Iowa Legislature unanimously passed legislation to give the state DOT the flexibility to waive some of their permit rules for emergencies as well as special economic projects.”

While Massachusetts is still a work in progress, he added, “SC&RA hired full-time lobbyist, Mark Malloy, who continues to build a coalition of both SC&RA member and non-member companies looking to overcome the state’s low 130,000-pound superload permit threshold.”

Smith acknowledged that California remains one of the few states left without an auto-issue permit system – but a productive meeting in Carlsbad with the joint California DOT (Caltrans) and California Trucking Association’s Permit Advisory Committee has him optimistic that an active program will soon be in place to ultimately push them forward. Similarly, while North Carolina got off to a rocky start with its new system, things appear to have evened out more recently.

Earlier in the year, the Specialized Transportation Symposium offered attendees the rare up-front and personal chance to engage with state and regional officials.

As for Utah, Smith confirmed. “The issue there is regional. Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma do not permit nine-axle trunnion-style trailers the same 60,000 pound-per-axle weight limit as longer tridem configurations. However, utilizing momentum from a 2022 live trunnion demo for UDOT bridge engineers in Salt Lake City, our members continued to host productive in-person industry roundtables with ODOT and CDOT during major SC&RA and WASHTO 2023 events.”

Smith noted that the Permit Policy Committee met again this summer. “We haven’t picked a new top five,” he said, “but we’re going to survey all SC&RA members about pain points in any state, and then use that feedback to prioritize the next list.”

Looking ahead, Smith is excited about the upcoming Specialized Transportation Symposium (February 20-22, Houston, Texas).

“It has become the forum for government and industry to meet and work together,” he stressed, “and I don’t know how we would have these recent successes without the consistent growth of this event, and the relationships and collaboration it produces.”


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