Construction vs. General Industry

OSHA Definitions for Businesses in General Industry or Construction

We receive these types of questions a lot, “Would I be considered Construction or General Industry?”. It is important to know and understand where your business falls in line. Under OSHA and Federal Regulation, there are different standards each requires. While there is no blanket answer, we can shed some light on the difference between these two industries.

A good place to start is directly at the source of these regulations and industry definitions:

This general industry standard defines construction. It is common to find companies where half of their work falls under the construction category. As we already know, under the construction law 1926.1427, that states a crane operator needs to be certified and qualified. OSHA goes further on and redefines qualified for crane operators because it is such a specialty job.

Here is the new construction law: highlighted is what we consider the important parts.




Through an evaluation, the employer must ensure that each operator is qualified by a demonstration of: 1926.1427(f)(1)(i)

The skills and knowledge, as well as the ability to recognize and avert risk, necessary to operate the equipment safely, including those specific to the safety devices, operational aids, software, and the size and configuration of the equipment. Size and configuration includes, but is not limited to, lifting capacity, boom length, attachments, luffing jib, and counterweight set-up.


The ability to perform the hoisting activities required for assigned work, including, if applicable, blind lifts, personnel hoisting, and multi-crane lifts.


For operators employed prior to December 10, 2018, the employer may rely on its previous assessments of the operator in lieu of conducting a new evaluation of that operator’s existing knowledge and skills.



The definition of “qualified” in §1926.32 does not apply to paragraph (f)(1) of this section: Possession of a certificate or degree cannot, by itself, cause a person to be qualified for purposes of paragraph (f)(1).



The evaluation required under paragraph (f)(1) of this section must be conducted by an individual who has the knowledge, training, and experience necessary to assess equipment operators.


The evaluator must be an employee or agent of the employer. Employers that assign evaluations to an agent retain the duty to ensure that the requirements in paragraph (f) are satisfied. Once the evaluation is completed successfully, the employer may allow the operator to operate other equipment that the employer can demonstrate does not require substantially different skills, knowledge, or ability to recognize and avert risk to operate.


The employer must document the completion of the evaluation. This document must provide: The operator’s name; the evaluator’s name and signature; the date; and the make, model, and configuration of equipment used in the evaluation. The employer must make the document available at the worksite while the operator is employed by the employer. For operators assessed per paragraph (f)(2) of this section, the documentation must reflect the date of the employer’s determination of the operator’s abilities and the make, model and configuration of equipment on which the operator has previously demonstrated competency.


When an employer is required to provide an operator with retraining under paragraph (b)(5) of this section, the employer must re-evaluate the operator with respect to the subject of the retraining.

So let’s say you are only General industry,  the federal law has a couple of things to say there as well:


“Designated personnel.” Only designated personnel shall be permitted to operate a crane covered by this section.

“Designated” means selected or assigned by the employer or the employer’s representative as being qualified to perform specific duties.

1910 does not have a definition of qualified. They left that to construction and the national consensus standard. You already read 1926.1427 (f)(3). Here is the first definition of qualified: Qualified person means a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, successfully demonstrated the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.

The two incorporated reference s are B30.5 of 1968 and of 2004 here is what they say:
B30.5 of 1968 reads the exact say designated as 1910.180. This is where OSHA got it from.

Qualifications for Operators

a. Operators shall be required to pass a practical operating examination. Examination shall be limited to the specific type equipment which he will operate.

b. Operators shall meet the following physical vision of at least 20/30 Snellen in one eye, and 20/50 in the other, with or without glasses.

2. Be able to distinguish red, green, and yellow, regardless of position of colors, if color differentiation is required for operation.

3. Hearing, with or without hearing aid, must be adequate for the specific operation.

4. A history of epilepsy or of a disabling heart condition shall be sufficient reason for his disqualification.

B30.5 of 2004 has qualified in it and qualification.

qualified operator: an operator who has met the requirements of paras. 5-3.1.2(a) through (c).

qualified person: a person who, by possession of a recognized (This is where OSHA 1926 got their definition) degree in an applicable field or certificate of professional standing, or who, by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter and work.

5-3.1.2 Qualifications for Operators (This starts just like the 1968 but it has a complete additional page.) Operators shall be required to successfully meet the qualifications for the specific type of crane (see Figs. 1 through 10) that they are operating.

(a) Operator and operator trainees shall meet the following physical qualifications unless it can be shown that failure to meet the qualifications will not affect the operation of the crane. In such cases, specialized clinical or medical judgments and tests may be required.

(1) vision of at least 20/30 Snellen in one eye and 20/50 in the other, with or without corrective lenses.

(2) ability to distinguish colors, regardless of position, if color differentiation is required.

In summary:

OSHA wants crane operators to be able to read and interpret the load chart correctly. That is part of training. If your operators are solely relying on the computer to keep them out of trouble I’m afraid you’re going to have an accident soon.

Is Your Business General Industry or Construction?