The USA’s National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators is considering developing new programmes for operators of tower cranes and overhead travelling cranes in response to perceived growing industry demand.

NCCCO has put more than 17,000 mobile crane operators through its examination procedure since beginning its certification programme in April 1996. Of these, more than 11,000 have passed and are now CCO certified. This programme has the backing of most of the major construction industry contractors and clients, the crane rental companies and federal OSHA. Many construction companies and client organisations specify that all mobile crane operators on their sites must be CCO certified.

Dave Ritchie, risk control specialist (cranes & rigging) at St Paul Insurance, is leading the tower crane task force that the CCO commissioners have set up to explore the development of a tower crane programme along the lines of its mobile crane programme.

‘We are trying to identify people who are interested, qualified, and willing to work,’ Ritchie said. ‘We do not have a timetable at this point, but when that is established we will consider appropriate issues in this country such as the California legislation that proposes tower crane operator certification’ [see above].

Ritchie said: ‘The industry has been asking the CCO and the Specialised Carriers & Rigging Association ‘what about tower cranes?’ since 1992. I do think that this programme is necessary. Because of the number of cranes and number of accidents, mobile cranes were the first priority. Tower cranes are no less important – they have the same potential for devastating accidents as mobile cranes.’

Ritchie said that progress depended on finding the necessary people and money to drive the issue forward. NCCCO’s mobile crane operator certification programme received significant funding from mobile crane manufacturers. It is unclear whether the tower crane manufacturers – virtually all based in Europe and all struggling to make any money – would be in a position to help so much.

NCCCO’s overhead crane task force, headed by John Alexander, is in the early stages of analysing the job of overhead crane operators, with a view to producing a certification process. It is in talks with the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA) about a possible cooperation. Morris Material Handling Inc vice president Peter Kerrick, who chairs CMAA’s crane manufacturers’ service committee, confirmed that discussions were taking place. ‘We as crane manufacturers, specifically those of us that offer training for customers, could be interested in third party certification,’ said Kerrick.

‘We want to know what it is going to cost and whether it is worth us pitching in and funding it,’ Kerrick added.

NCCCO executive director Graham Brent will be discussing the US experience of operating training and certification at Mobile Crane Safety 2003, being held in London next 16 June.

Added to the roster of speakers is Professor Wojciech Sobczykiewicz of Warsaw University of Technology’s Institute of Heavy Machinery Engineering. Prof Sobczykiewicz will present exclusive data from the Polish Office of Technical Inspection and The State Inspection of Labour with an analysis of the causes of accidents. He joins a line up of presentations that include case studies from the oil companies Syncrude and Saudi Aramco.

For further details, click here, or contact Julie Rossiter at Wilmington Publishing (tel: +44 (0) 208 269 7835, fax: +44 (0) 208 269 7880,