West Virginia Makes Certification Changes to Reflect Industry Best Practices

The West Virginia state legislature beefed up its crane safety law this spring. House Bill 3076, which relates to the regulation and operation of cranes, provides a new definition for “tower crane,” establishes operator certification renewal requirements, provides for automatic certification for certain operators, and creates a penalty for operating a tower crane without a license.

West Virginia, one of the first states to require operator certification through third-party testing, put its law on the books in 2001. The statute requires certification through the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). Working without certification can result in penalties for both the operator and his employer.

“This is an update to that law, in an effort to strengthen it,” said Joel Oliva, NCCCO’s regulatory affairs and special projects coordinator, commenting on the 2009 statute. “The biggest changes are [their] including tower crane operators, modifying their specialties to better match up with our current large and small telescopic crane categories, and now requiring certification to be accredited by ANSI.”

In explaining the automatic certification section of the new law, Oliva said West Virginia is simply addressing NCCCO’s change in crane categories, made in 2005-06 to reflect changes in the industry. Now, instead of using a tonnage delineator, NCCCO simply uses the fixed cab vs. swing cab separation. “There are individuals who were certified before the 2005-06 switch, and it will be addressed in their recertification,” he said, which is coming up soon.

The new language basically means that those individuals who are up for recertification will be changed over to our new model (swing vs. fixed) upon passing their recertification exams, according to Oliva. “This is the case for all of our operators nationwide,” he said.

The state offers a “state only” license good only in West Virginia. Operators are able to attain a state license without testing if they can show enough experience in the field. These individuals are not issued a CCO certification card. Instead, they receive a state license.

“NCCCO will continue to provide certification and recertification exams for the state of West Virginia, both for national and state certification,” Oliva said. “They were the first to adopt national certification through third-party testing in 2001, and we are glad to see them update their standards to meet best practices in [the] industry today.”