Not many crane operators are women. That's mostly because, in less enlightened times, women were viewed as being ill-equipped to operate a crane, which requires a light touch, working with hands and feet in harmony, and the ability to think a dozen steps ahead. Too bad those old-time thinkers never juggled a cell phone and coffee while driving to work. On top of these skills, crane operators need to keep abreast of workplace rules established by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Crane Operator Certification
When you dig into subpart CC in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 1926.1427, you discover that you must have a certification for both the capacity and the type of each crane you operate. Certification requires you to take a written exam and complete a practical demonstration of your ability to operate it. You must also use its load chart data and complete the required inspection of the crane – including recognizing and inspecting the individual parts checked – in the pre-use shift inspection.
Paths to Certification
You can obtain crane operator certification through any one of four methods. The first method involves training and certification through an accredited testing organization that complies with OSHA standards. The second method involves a written exam and a practical demonstration offered by an audited, employer-based program. The third method is certification by the U.S. military. The final method is by completing the requirements for a state or local license to operate specific cranes of a given capacity. Certification through private organizations is portable and valid for five years. Certification through the U.S. military is not portable, and must be renewed every 5 years. Employer certification isn’t portable.
The Operating Environment
You must know about the type of ground you'll work on and whether underground hazards, such as utilities or pipelines, are present. You must also know about any written information about the ground that your employer possesses and understand the requirements for crane assembly and disassembly, including the requirements for qualified riggers and types of slings used. You must also know the working radius of the crane -- the distance from the center of the crane's cab to the tip of the boom. You must understand the requirements for boundaries around energized power lines and the special requirements for utility company crane operators.
Signals, Cell Phones and Licenses
There's ongoing training and restrictions on using a cell phone. The crane operator and those who direct the crane operation must understand the required hand signals. OSHA bars cell phone use in the crane unless used in lieu of the hand signals or radio directions to direct the crane operator's actions. Crane operators also attend and understand hazard avoidance training on a regular basis. Crane operators who work in more than one jurisdiction are required to obtain state or municipal licenses. Operators certified by their employer must have their crane operator's certificate in hand before they jump in the crane and operate.
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