NCCCO and IPAF Announce New Programs During ConExpo

In a joint news conference during the recent ConExpo show in Las Vegas, Nev., the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) held a joint news conference to announce their new programs and update the industry on their current successes.

IPAF New “Look Down” Initiative

IPAF is a not-for-profit members’ organization that promotes safe and effective use of powered access equipment worldwide. During the news conference, IPAF CEO Tim Whiteman announced the organization’s new “Look down before going up” initiative aimed at making aerial work platform users more aware of the need to properly assess ground conditions before and during platform use.

Whiteman pointed out that aerial work platforms can exert ground pressures of more than 200 pounds per square inch (compared to about 35 psi for a car). Those high pressures can create a tipover hazard if the ground beneath the lift cannot support the pressure created by the machine.

IPAF says that pre-operation jobsite risk assessments are vital to determine if there are ground areas with uncompacted fill; underground voids like cellars, sewers, basements, underground services; areas where weather has compromised soil conditions; proximity to excavations; or any other condition that might reduce ground stability.

To demonstrate the amount of weight a lift can put on the ground beneath its tires, IPAF ran a variety of lifts onto four scales with large digital readouts that showed how weight it distributed among the tires, and how the distribution changes as an aerial lift’s boom and basket swing.

Tony Groat, executive vice-president of American Work Platform Training (AWPT), IPAF’s North American subsidiary, noted that four of 27 aerial work platform fatalities last year came from tipovers. Groat urges users to know clearly who’s responsible for checking ground conditions before and during use of aerial work platforms.

Whiteman noted that IPAF’s operator training program 85,605 operators last year and that in March, the organization issued its 500,000th yellow “Powered Access License” qualified operator’s card.

NCCCO Announces Two New Certification Programs

Graham J. Brent, executive director of the NCCCO announced that the organization is extending its range of crane-related certifications by developing programs to certify lift directors and operators of digger derricks. Both new certification programs will be ready to go by next spring, said Brent.

The NCCCO certification program, begun in 1996, is now recognized by ANSI, federal OSHA, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, the federal Department of Defense, and the federal Department of Energy.

NCCCO first focused on certifying crane operators, but has expanded its offerings to also certify others working in crane-related jobs. Its certifications now cover: mobile crane operators, towercrane operators, overhead crane operators, articulating crane operators, signalpersons, riggers, and crane inspectors.

Brent said the ANSI B30.5 code’s defining of the lift director position gave rise to the new program to certify people serving in that capacity.

The program to certify digger derrick operators grew out of OSHA’s defining the equipment as a type of crane and from a request by key manufactures of the equipment, he said.

During the press conference, the NCCCO demonstrated part of the standardized practical examination crane operators must pass to earn certification. Using a telescopic-boom crane donated by Coast Crane Company, Seattle, Wash., an operator artfully maneuvered a test weight through a prescribed zigzag path to meet one of the practical test’s standardized skill requirements. NCCCO's Joel Oliva emphasized that the standards for all exams are strictly defined so that all operator taking the test anywhere in the country must meet exactly the same requirements.