State officials considering new crane laws

Monday, July 28th 2008, 8:17 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, News 9

State officials are considering strengthening Oklahoma's laws on crane operations following the death of a 78-year-old man. Winford Stafford was killed July 24 when a crane collapsed after falling on his car.

Stafford's death was the third crane fatality in Oklahoma in 2008, and the state's Department of Labor said the number of crane accidents has increased.

As Oklahoma's construction and oil and gas industries continue to boom, cranes continue to be in high demand. While cranes are plentiful, regulations on the skill are not. Currently, there are no regulations in regards to crane operations.

"We do not have any regulatory authority," said Diana Jones of the state's Department of Labor.

Only 14 states and the District of Columbia require that crane operators be licensed. In Oklahoma, no such requirement exists.

There are schools throughout the state that teach the skill of crane operation. Trade unions also provide members with instruction in their proper use, but the co-chair of the Senate Business and Labor Committee said more is required.

"I'm thinking we need to have some sort of licensing program for cranes similar to what we have with forklifts," said Sen. Harry Coates (R- Seminole). "You can't operate a forklift out there without some sort of training, and cranes...are somewhat more lethal than even the forklifts are."

Since 2000, Barnhart Crane and Rigging, the company operating the crane that killed Stafford, has had no previous record of crane collapses.

Stafford's funeral was held Monday.