British Columbia to Enforce Crane Operator Certification

Soon the operators of British Columbia's 5,000 cranes will need to be certified before they begin any work activities. On July 1, 2007, WorkSafeBC, the provincial regulatory authority with respect to occupational health and safety in the region, will begin enforcing regulation requiring all operators of boom, tower, and mobile cranes in B.C. to hold a certificate proving competency. The regulation, proclaimed January 1, 2007, gives current and new operators six months to move through the assessment process. 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 regulation applies to all crane operators and defines the competencies required to move through three levels of certification. Each level would give clarity to the types of equipment people are qualified to operate at any given point in time. Operators, as they are able to prove competencies, will be able to move through the levels.

Speaking at the announcement in Prince George, the Honorable Olga Ilich, Minister of Labor and Citizens' Services said, “Employers and labor fully support this regulation, because it means that everyone who works around cranes will know that the operator is fully qualified, making for a safer workplace.”

Regulations for crane operator training in B.C. were significantly stepped up in 1998, when WorkSafeBC, known then as the Worker's Compensation Board (WCB) of British Columbia, released a major revision to their Occupational Health & Safety Regulation within which the requirements for crane operator training were detailed. “At the time, the relative regulation (14.34(3)) included a requirement by which operators had to serve an apprenticeship and receive a trade qualification to operate a crane as was, and is, the case in Alberta and Ontario,” said Robert Vetter. Vetter is the technical director of IVES Training Group and is a crane safety professional who has served in the Canadian and US OSH industry for 23 years. “The regulation was subsequently repealed and alternative wording given that basically stated crane operators had to be trained but that it was the employers choice as to how that got done.”

Fraser Cocks, executive director of the B.C .Association for Crane Safety (BCACS) said, “We have worked extensively with crane industry stakeholders and we firmly believe we have developed a progressive, industry supported model and system for crane operators in B.C.”

The BCACS, the organization that developed the operator qualification program, was formed to provide leadership for health and safety development within the crane hoisting industry and has representation on its Board of Directors from industry, labor and business associations. It will also promote the industry to prospective operators and serve as an advisory body on regulatory matters.

Discussions are ongoing between the BCACS, Alberta, and Ontario and industry stakeholders to harmonize qualification standards to enhance operator mobility.