Fitness has been a passion of mine for years, and recently I have been taking steps to become a group exercise instructor. Before taking classes and gaining certifications, I thought getting up in front of the group and guiding them through the routine would be a cake walk. Only after becoming certified to teach pilates, cardio kickboxing, and hip hop dance did I discover just how difficult it is to train a group of athletes to meet their fitness goals (all without seriously injuring myself or them).
Then it clicked—the certification is only the first step. It wasn't until I put hundreds of hours into learning the steps and cueing to prevent twists, sprains, broken bones, and wear and tear on the joints before realizing that this is really what it takes to become an instructor—and this all took place before auditioning for a position at a health club.
Many trainers who certify crane operators will stress the same thing. Certification is only the first step in the process. The time spent in the seat and overcoming challenging lifts is what will make you an operator.
A recent survey of long-time CCO-certified crane operators backs this up by reporting they believe their certification has helped them to become safer operators and communicate better with other trades on the job, as well as gain employment. To be specific, 86 percent of respondents who have carried a CCO card for at least 10 years indicate that earning their CCO certification has helped them do their jobs better, and 87 percent said that CCO certification has made them safer operators. While many of these operators certainly had experience before certification, undoubtedly the practical and written exams emphasized ways that they can become safer, more aware of their surroundings, and provide them with more confidence when faced with challenges.
The idea of certifying operators is catching on for other equipment as well. For example, a construction site in St. Louis, Mo., marked the first 100 percent AWPT-trained job site in the United States. On the 20-story building project, AWPT-certified instructor Bobby Reese from Mastclimbers LLC trained 56 employees on regulations, safe use, daily and weekly inspections, practical use, and understanding of operating instructions and load charts for mast-climbing work platforms. Even though these workers received their PAL Cards, workers must be familiarized on site-specific equipment as well.
Come Nov. 8, 2014, crane operators will have to be certified and riggers and signalpersons will have to be qualified before rolling onto the jobsite to make or assist heavy picks. But just because they will be card-carrying members of the club does not make them ready to take on the most complex jobsite tasks. Take time to fully train your employees and familiarize them on the specific job sites they will encounter. Apprentice them and implement a follow-up program within your company to make sure they continue their education. This not only will make them safer, but it provides an element of confidence within your crew.