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CIC Announces Certification Programs for Operators of Digger Derricks and Articulating Cranes | Construction News

In time for the International Construction & Utility Equipment Expo (ICUEE), Crane Institute Certification (CIC) has made available certification programs for operators of articulating boom cranes and digger derricks.

"Many companies are seeking operator certification because their customers are requiring it. We are also seeing a push for articulating crane and digger derrick operator certification from insurance companies," said Bill Schofield, a technical consultant to Crane Institute of America, Sanford, Fla., and chairman of the Multi-Purpose Equipment program development committee. This committee was responsible for developing the Articulating Boom Crane and Digger Derrick Operator Certification programs.

Articulating cranes feature knucklebooms that bend at multiple joints; they have no hoist line. This type of crane boasts exceptional horizontal reach and is often operated with remote control.  These cranes are frequently used by roofers, utility companies, and sign installers. Operators of articulating boom cranes must be certified according to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction regulation when the crane is used for construction activities. (For information on exceptions, see the Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Final Rule for Cranes and Derricks in Construction, published by OSHA.)

Digger derricks are also frequently used in the utility industry, as well as by telecommunications, lighting, and sign contractors. Digger derrick operators must be certified according to OSHA if the equipment is used for construction activities. CIC's Digger Derrick Operator Certification is designed to meet the needs of companies who use digger derricks for a variety of activities, including construction work.

"The fact that digger derricks can lift loads presents certain safety concerns, prompting their inclusion in OSHA 29CFR1926.1400. Digger derrick operator certification will be mandatory for some industries," said Darin Hinnergardt, on behalf of Altec Industries Inc., Birmingham, Ala., which manufactures cranes, digger derricks, aerial devices, and other equipment for the electric utility, telecommunications, tree care, lights and signs, and contractor markets. Members of the Altec Sentry Program participated in pilot testing for CIC's Digger Derrick Operator Certification program development.

Development of Multi-Purpose Equipment Exams

Questions for CIC's Articulating Crane and Digger Derrick written exams and practical tests were developed by subject matter experts representing manufacturers, public utilities, unions, contractors, and training professionals-people familiar with the equipment and its applications. Service/Mechanic Trucks also fall under the responsibility of the Multi-Purpose Equipment committee, for which a certification program is currently under development and scheduled for release by the end of the year.

"The Supplement exams take into consideration the functionality of the crane. For example, the hook is often mounted to the boom tip on articulating boom cranes, making its operation somewhat different from a traditional telescopic boom crane. While the composition of the load chart for an articulating boom looks different from a telescoping boom, operators still have to accomplish similar tasks-read and accurately interpret the load chart," said Schofield.

"CIC's written test is broken down into four categories: site evaluation and crane setup, technical information, load charts, and digger derrick operation. Safe operation around power lines and communication with ground personnel are covered in these categories to address two top hazards of digger derrick operation," explained Altec's Hinnergardt. "The practical exam focuses on the operator's ability to control a freely suspended load."

More than 100 practical exams for each certification were pilot tested in the field. "It was a privilege to work with such a diverse and knowledgeable group of professionals dedicated to the development of a fair and comprehensive evaluation that meets OSHA's requirements," said Bill Jordan, Altec Sentry program trainer, who participated in the Digger Derrick Operator Certification pilot testing. "The only agenda was getting it right. And I think we did just that." In addition to Altec, Pacific Gas & Electric took part in pilots for digger derricks.  

One of the companies that participated in pilot exams for Articulating Boom Crane Operator Certification was L&W Supply, a distribution subsidiary of USG Corp. Kevin Rennie, regional safety manager for USG, explained that although the company's operators are exempt from the Federal Cranes & Derricks rule because of the material they deliver and the equipment they use, several states require certification, as do many large contractors and government entities for which L&W Supply performs work. "I am told that CIC took our feedback from the pilot tests and made some revisions to the testing because of our input," said Rennie.

L&W Supply, which has previously done rigging and hoisting training with Jim Headley, president of Crane Institute of America, worked with the Sanford, Fla.-based training company to schedule preparatory training and written and practical testing for 12 employees. Crane Institute of America is an authorized examiner for CIC. "We found the whole process to be seamless," said Rennie, who reported that all of the L&W Supply employees passed the practical exams and a majority of the operators passed the written exam on the first try.

Operators who have achieved Mobile Crane Operator certification can add designations for either Articulating Boom or Digger Derrick by successfully completing a written exam for these specific categories. Alternatively, operators who do not operate traditional telescopic boom cranes may take the appropriate written exam followed by a practical test specifically designed for either articulating boom cranes or digger derricks. These certifications would be restricted to the operation of the specific equipment on which they were tested.

"What sets CIC's certifications apart from others is that its practical exams are an effective measure of the operator's skill while also being efficient to set up and conduct," said Schofield. "Plus CIC's customer service can't be beat."

"CIC's new Articulating Boom Crane and Digger Derrick Operator certifications assure employers that operators have the unique knowledge and skills necessary to operate these specialized machines, while providing an affordable solution to meeting OSHA's requirements," said Debbie Dickinson, executive director of Crane Institute Certification. "The structure of CIC's certifications makes it simple for employers to certify their operators for additional specialties, such as digger derricks or articulating boom cranes, because only one practical exam is generally necessary."

In August, CIC will complete another major milestone in the accreditation process with the American National Standards Institute for Articulating Boom Crane and Digger Derrick Operator Certification programs.  CIC programs are already NCCA accredited. 


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