Assessment Set to Begin for British Columbia Crane Operators

More than 10,000 crane operators in British Columbia have registered for assessment to comply with the province's new crane operator certification program requirements. The number of crane operators who have registered with the BC Association for Crane Safety (BCACS) is nearly double what the organization originally predicted.

WorkSafeBC, the provincial regulatory authority with respect to health and safety in the region, required crane operators to register for assessment by July 1, 2007. Under the regulation, operators of boom, tower and mobile cranes in British Columbia must hold a certification proving competency. Until this regulation, there was no common standard on which to base a decision about which piece of equipment an operator was qualified to use. The BCACS has worked with WorkSafeBC and the Industry Training Authority (ITA) to develop the operator qualification program.

BCACS has defined the standards and the assessment criteria and has put together a team of assessors who will go to jobsites and walk crane operators through a typical lifting task. The assessment will validate that the operator understand how to use the load chart, knows how to rig and how to make a lift.

“If you're out there operating a crane, we're basically making you prove that you know what you're doing by coming out and assessing you,” said Fraser Cocks, executive director for the BCACS.

Starting in January, a team of assessors will begin its assessments of operators, heading to their jobsites, rather than requiring operators to go to a test site to operate unfamiliar equipment. “We're trying to take the stress levels out of this,” said Cocks. “Everybody hates a test. We're just trying to make it as simple and as easy as possible. You know the idiosyncrasies of your crane, you know what your rigging is, you know what you've got, you know exactly what you need to do.”

Reports that the crane operator certification is being delayed because of the unexpected volume of registrants are false, according Cocks. He said that it's possible that the deadline may be extended, but as of now, the deadline for getting assessed is still July 1, 2008. “Nothing has been extended,” Cocks said. “It's just that the number of people we have and the time period that's been cited • it looks like it's a pretty tall order to accomplish.”

Cocks said that as the summer deadline approaches, BCACS will evaluate its progress and examine how many operators have been assessed and how many have yet to be tested before a deadline extension is considered.