By Jay Shiffler, Vice President of Business Development, WHECO Worldwide Services
One of the truly great injustices done to crane owners and insurance companies by the manufacturers, that is costing millions of dollars annually in unnecessary crane component replacements, is spreading the misconception that unless a repair or repair process to a crane is approved by an OEM, it is to be considered a “modification.”
Repairs/adjustments and modifications are addressed separately in the new OSHA standard 1926.1400
- Repairs/Adjustments: 1926.1412(b)
- Modifications: 1926.1412(a) and 1926.1434
If you listen to the rhetoric of the manufacturers, you would be mistakenly led to believe that unless the repair is approved by them, it would not comply with the OSHA standard. But, if you were to put this to the Truth-O-Meter test, it would earn a PANTS ON FIRE rating. That rating indicates that the statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim. We would agree. Let’s discuss the facts:
- Fact #1: OSHA standards apply to everyone, not just the manufacturers. And, the manufacturers have no authority to interpret OSHA or make up rules that restrict crane owners and insurance companies from exercising their rights under federal law to have their cranes and crane components repaired.
- Fact #2: The manufacturers have no authority to define non-OEM repairs as modifications, thus excluding them from OSHA regulations governing repairs and adjustments. They actually make this very claim in two publications issued by the PCSA (Power Crane and Shovel Association).
Specifically, here is what they say in both publications:
COMPLIANCE WITH OSHA: Non-OEM authorized boom replacements and/or boom repair practices are considered modifications to the crane.
While it stands to reason that they would want us to believe this, it is self-serving at best and maybe unlawful at worst. So, who is the PCSA and where do they come up with this stuff? The PCSA (Power Crane & Shovel Association) is a bureau under the organization AEM (Association of Equipment Manufacturers). These publications are an unfortunate example that is clearly self-serving and designed to try to exercise and maintain proprietary control over their lucrative aftermarket product support and parts business at the expense of crane owners and insurance companies. We especially feel they have crossed the line when they send out correspondence misrepresenting federal OSHA standards.
- Fact #3: Crane manufacturers frequently threaten to pull warranties and support for machines that have not been approved by the manufacturer. I have a stack of letters and emails from manufacturers threatening extreme measure if customers and insurance companies fail to comply with their policies. And that is the big problem; manufacturers try to present their company policies as if they were federal law. DO NOT CONFUSE MANUFACTURERS’ POLICIES REGARDING REPAIRS WITH FEDERAL LAW.
- Fact #4: Each year, millions of dollars are lost by crane owners and insurance companies to the manufacturers because they do not know how, or simply do not choose, to defend their right to have their cranes and equipment repaired.
- Fact #5: Manufacturers are invited to join the party. One manufacturer, Manitowoc, has emerged as a thought leader in structural repairs by teaming up with WHECO to provide factory supported structural repairs and restorations. WHECO has already completed many successful projects since our agreement was consummated in late 2011. We encourage and are always open to teaming up with the other crane and heavy equipment manufacturers as well.
As long as there are companies like WHECO who are thought leaders in crane and heavy equipment repair industry, and who speak out to advocate the “truth” about repair services, we will eventually change the paradigm.
So, don’t let them get away with it. If you think that you are being taken advantage of, feel free to give me a call. I am glad to share any resources we have to help you fight the good fight.