Defining Spreader Bars
If you work with spreader bars, I'm sure you have heard of the controversial ruling by a Florida MSHA administrative law judge that defined a spreader bar as part of a load, rather than as accessory rigging used to safely lift a load. Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration regulations do not define spreader bars and this is relevant because workers cannot safely walk around a suspended load per MSHA regulations. Not only does this severely hamper a worker's ability to rig up a load, but this is also contrary to OSHA's definition of a spreader bar and the ability to walk around it to secure the load.
When the initial ruling was challenged, our industry rallied together to support the crane rental company and oppose the dim notion that a dictionary definition of a work like "load" should take precedence over a consortium of industry experts that argue otherwise. Thankfully there has been a flood of industry veterans weighing in on the issue, from the informed media, to other spreader bar manufacturers, to a torrent of opinions on social sites like Linked In and Facebook.
Let's hope the decision by a non-industry "legal expert" will take the time to understand what operators, oilers and riggers do every day. That these professionals on the front lines are educated in what they do and take proper precautions to stay safe. And that common sense would dictate that a spreader bar might need to be lifted to properly secure it to a load and fulfill its intended purpose.