Start with certified operators
According to the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), currently 15 states and six cities require licensing for crane operators. (To find out requirements for specific states and cities, visit www.nccco.org.) However, licensing is only a starting point.
"Regardless of a state's requirements, the employer is responsible to see that the operator is properly trained, is evaluated for competency and is capable of performing the job," says LaMar. "Credentials may include a [certified crane operator] CCO certificate, records of formal training, operator log books and union documentation."
While not required in many states or cities, there is a very good argument to write CCO certification for crane operators into every project requirement. "At the macro level, from a risk management perspective, it makes total sense, because the project owner is in the position of needing all of the various subcontractors on site to meet a certain level of safety," says Graham Brent, executive director, NCCCO.
"With CCO certification, you know that the operator has the knowledge and the skill because we have a written and a practical test that the industry has determined to be sufficient to operate a crane safely," Brent adds.
The CCO was put together by the industry to provide an independent assessment of the crane operators' skill and knowledge. However, the NCCCO is not an educational entity. "We don't provide training because we want to be able to offer an independent assessment," says Brent. "If we also trained, we might have some investment in seeing those people that we trained certified. So it is really up to the operator and employer to decide what kind of training is going to be required."
CCO is an easy way to ensure that you are OSHA compliant. "OSHA requires a qualified operator," says Brent. "We were recognized by Federal OSHA in 1999. We have an official agreement that recognizes the program as meeting OSHA and ANSI requirements for crane operator qualification."
The CCO program is also accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. NCCCO is the only national organization accredited to certify crane operators.
NCCCO offers six categories of certification: four mobile crane categories, one tower and one overhead. "Right now, we are working on rigging certification and signal person certification," says Brent.
It is easy to check on the status of an operator. "Any operator who achieves any level of certification on at least one category gets a personal laminated ID card," says Brent. "That is his identification as to which categories he is certified." You can also call the NCCCO to have the operator checked against the database.
Due to the risk mitigation of using certified operators, many insurance companies support the program. Brent says he is aware of one company that offers up to a 10% premium discount incentive if you have a certain percentage of your operators certified. "Those insurance companies that are offering that premium discount," he adds, "know their insurance through certified operators is a better risk."