Date ArticleType
10/30/2017 Safety Flash
Crane Operator Certification

 Crane Op Cert_Oct Safety Flash

Crane Operator Certification


In August 2017, OSHA issued a proposed rule to extend the compliance deadline for crane operator certification requirements by a year, to Nov. 10, 2018. The comment period regarding this extension closed on Sept. 29, 2017. A final ruling has not yet been issued, but in the meantime, employers still have a duty to ensure that crane operators are competent.

The requirement for the certification of crane operators in construction has been a contentious one and may leave some employers confused. As background, following the 2010 rule with a four-year phase in period, in September 2014 OSHA extended the deadline by another three years for crane operator certification requirements in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard, which would have required compliance by November 2017. However, the agency is now proposing another extension to address stakeholder concerns over the operator certification requirements in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.

The main reason for the ongoing delay is that there is disagreement among industry stakeholders regarding language related to whether certification is equal to qualification, and whether certification should be done by type of crane and by capacity of crane. OSHA needs time to address those concerns. Following the most recent proposed delay, according to the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, “All indications are that the existing language will be substantially changed to remove the requirement for certification by crane capacity and to better define the role of certification in determining whether or not an operator meets OSHA’s definition of qualified.”

So should you wait to get your operators certified?

Best Practices

Currently OSHA requires employers to ensure that operators are competent to operate the equipment, provide training when an operator does not have the knowledge or ability to operate safely, and ensure that each operator is evaluated to confirm that he/she understands the information provided in training.

Most industry stakeholders agree that some form of crane operator certification will eventually be required on a national level. Many states, government entities, and large construction owners already require it to do business with them. Assuring that crane operators have a base knowledge level for the equipment they operator is a good business practice.

However, according to OSHA data, there are currently still nearly 25,000 operators in the market who are not certified. Many testing providers say that it is difficult to pass a certification exam on the first try unless operators been through formal training to refresh knowledge, skills and abilities. It will take time to prepare your operators; waiting only puts them and you at risk of being out of compliance with the proposed 2018 deadline looming.

Attaining certification is just a first step toward improving safe work practices. Crane configurations and lifting scenarios vary widely, and operators should have training in a variety of areas, including ability to:

  • Assess the risks of the environment
  • Set crane up properly
  • Competently operator the specific crane type and configuration
  • Understand communication, signaling
  • Understand load charts and assess rigging


Aug. 30 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including 130 comments from industry

FAQs on the 2018 Proposed Extension

Cranes & Derricks in Construction Rule

Crane Operator Certification Providers

National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators


Crane Institute Certification