Debbie Dickinson's Thoughts on Operator Certification

(Section 1926.1427)

Excerpt from Crane Hotline Magazine October 2011


Debbie Dickinson, Executive Director, Crane Institute of Certification

Debbie Dickinson is the Executive Director of Crane Institute Certification (CIC), Sanford, Fla. CIC certifies crane operators,
inspectors, riggers and signalpersons; Certifications are NCCA accredited, OSHA recognized.

The effective date for the majority of the the regulation if Nov. 8, 2010, but construction industry crane operators have four years - until Nov. 8, 2014 - to earn and maintain an accredited certification. However, many states, municipalities, unions, and employers already require accredited operator certification. Employability will decrease for operators the longer they wait to become certified.

The regulation allows an individual to receive certification from the U.S. military, a licensed government entity, such as a state or city, or audited employer-provided program. None of these, however, are portable beyond the employer or jurisdiction.

A qualified, audited employer program may have some appeal to employers, however, the requirements for an employer-based program nearly mirror an accredited third-party certification. For example, an employer's qualification must be developed by an accredited testing organization or audited by an accredited testing organization. The employer would still have to test operators, and auditors must be able to verify that an employer's test meet "nationally recognized test development criteria and care valid and reliable in assessing the operator...knowledge and skills."

The hard cost and labor of employer qualification may exceed the cost of third-party accredited certification. In addition, an employer program is not portable. If an operator goes to another job, the credentials remain with the employer and may not follow the operator in an employer-based program. Likewise, a newly hired operator would have to be documented by the new employer to the same extent. Accredited third-party certifications are portable for operators going from one employer to another.

Employers must pay for crane certification, at no cost to the operator. In addition, employers must provide training and a trainer must monitor operators-in-training. With limited exceptions, for short 15-minute breaks with minimal and defined operations, if any, "the operator's trainer and the operator-in-training must be in direct line of sight of each other...they must communicate verbally or by hand signals." Employee trainers must be certified operators.

Today there are three, equally accredited certification organizations to provide third-party crane operator certification. Organizations that meet the full requirements of final OSHA rule include, in alphabetical order: Crane Institute Certification (CIC);the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER); National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).

The use of calculators has been a debate specifically related to certification testing, and the new regulation now permits them. Operators may be tested for certification verbally or "in any language the candidate understands." Operators do not have to have practical exams on every crane they operate. For example, operators passing tests on a 100-ton telescoping boom crane are deemed qualified and certified on lesser-capacity crane of this same type.

Mike Parnell's Thoughts on Rigger/Signalperson

(Section 1926.1428)

Excerpt from Crane Hotline Magazine October 2011


Mike Parnell, Chairman Rigger.Signalperson Certification Committe

Mike Parnell is president of Industrial Training International, Woodland, Wash., which specializes in crane and rigging training and consulting. He is a board member of the Association of Crane and Rigging Professionals. Active in industry standards committees, he is vice chairman of ASME B30 main committee and a voting member of several B30 committees.
(note: Mike Parnell is also Chairman, CIC Rigger & Signalperson Certification committee)
This regulation now requires a level knowledge that's unprecedented in a formal way. The signalperson is required to have knowledge of crane operations and understand how a signal affects the crane's capability and capacity. Signalpersons used to simply be a separate set of eyes on the ground, helping the operator get the load from Point A to Point B. Now the person in this position is more accountable to help the whole crew and to ensure the load is taken along a path that minimizes risks to others and lowers the risk to the crane.
Hand Signal
For example, a signalperson needs to know that booming down typically loses capacity, booming up gains capacity. This is a level of responsibility that the signalperson has not had before.

In addition, signalpersons must prove they are capable of signaling by written or oral testing and by performance. It wasn't that long ago for the youngest, least experienced person to be assigned the task of signaling because the seasoned people were involved in rigging, blocking, and load-handling activities.

Today, at least two groups offer qualification using certification method, and more on the horizon. But be careful with the word "certified." While a certified signalperson would meet OSHA's requirements, OSHA only calls for a "qualified" signalperson. That can be achieved in a variety of ways. Employers can offer their own documented program or candidates can be tested by a third-party evaluator, which doesn't necessarily have to be a certifying group. The advantage of using a certifying group, however, is that the signalperson's qualifications are portable from job to job.

Voice SignalOne other key point: In the section on signaling, information on hand signals and radio communication has expanded, and now calls for a formal three-step process. Those steps are: 1) function and direction, 2) distance or speed, and 3) function and stop. These steps are also identified in ANSI B30.5 in the same vernacular.

However, the new regulation was not so detailed with its wording on what defines a "qualified" rigger. The rule calls for a qualified rigger, but it doesn't go much further than that.

For Mike Parnell's Thoughts on Rigger Sections 1926.251, 753, 1404, and 1425, see Jan. 2011 Issue.
December 2010


12.3.10 - CIC gets a unanimous approval as a nationally accredited certification option in New Mexico!

11.30.10 - The State of Pennsylvania has unanimously voted to change the law from only stating NCCCO certifications to including all certifications accredited by NCCA or ANSI. This is a major win for the crane operators of PA as they now have options and are able to save money along with the hundreds of others who have chosen to certify with CIC.

11.24.10 - The Utah Commission that oversees crane operator licenses and accredited certification met today and unanimously approved Crane Institute of America Certification (CIC).!

- Crane Inspector/Certifier
- Lift Director
- Qualified Rigger - Advanced
- Tower Crane Operator

In This Issue
Debbie Dickinson's Thoughts on Operator Certification 1926.1427
Mike Parnell's Thoughts on Rigger/Signalperson 1926.1428
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