OSHA Crane Operator Certification Requirement

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all crane operators in construction industries (like sign installation) be certified. Here's what you need to start thinking about to comply with the Crane Operator Certification rule that came into effect on November 10, 2018.


What do you need to do to comply with the Crane Operator Certification rule that came into effect on November 10, 2018?
Crane operators need to obtain certification from a recognized accreditation body or hold a valid license from one of the 16 states/7 cities that have requirements for crane operators.  Certification or licensing both involve passing an examination administered by a third-party.  

Training prepares employees to pass the certification requirements.

Training for the test isn’t required. Passing the certification requirement is and passing isn’t likely without preparation. Test prep training greatly increases the exam passage rate.

Start scheduling training now to spread out training for multiple employees. As the deadline arrived and enforcement ramps up, more affected employers are signing up for the training and the certification exams.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Kenny Peskin (Kenny.Peskin@signs.org).

Here’s what you need to know about the Crane Operator Certification rule:

Ø Determine the number of employees you need to get trained and certified.

Ø Research the available companies that offer training at sites near youby date or online (select National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). Or look at the National Center for Construction Education & Research's directory of Mobile Crane Operator Certification Providers.

Ø Schedule any Specialty Exams that are required for your employees.

Ø Reach out to other sign companies in your area and see if they have staff that need to get certified as well. See if you can have a trainer come to you to do a group training for a group discount. Your company may see significant savings with a local training if you can avoid paying lodging or overtime for travel.

Ø What if your crane operators fail the certification exams? Schedule the exams as soon as possible in case the operators don’t pass the first time.


Printable FAQs and Checklist
It is critical that your operators are being certified on the type of crane they operate. 

Click here for additional information. 


Mobile Crane Operator Evaluation

ISA has released a Mobile Crane Operator Evaluation template form. This resource is designed to assist in the employer's obligation to evaluate the competency of the crane operator and their ability to work safely.

Many ISA members will recall OSHA’s 2010 implementation of the "Cranes and Derricks In Construction" rule. This rule required updated certifications and improved work practices for cranes used in Construction industries.  Much of the attention placed on complying with this new rule dealt with provisions requiring crane operator "certification" or licensing; these provisions took effect in November 2018.

At about the same time that operator certification requirements were taking effect, OSHA announced that certain interim provisions (temporarily in effect until 2018) would be made permanent.  Employer "evaluation" may be the most significant of these new requirements.

These crane operator evaluations can be performed in house, by a knowledgeable, experienced employee who is qualified to assess others.  Or these evaluations can be performed by a third party.  (Many firms that offer crane certification training or inspections also offer operator evaluation services. Some leading training firms will travel to your shop site and estimate that each employee evaluation can be completed in approx. one hour per employee, if the employee demonstrates adequate knowledge and ability.)

As of February 2019, employers in construction industries must ensure that each operator demonstrates:

  • The skills, knowledge, and judgment necessary to operate the equipment safely, including those specific to the safety devices, operational aids, software, and the size and configuration of the equipment.
  • The ability to perform the hoisting activities required for assigned work, including, if applicable, blind lifts, personnel hoisting, and multi-crane lifts.


This evaluation must be conducted by an individual who has the knowledge, training, and experience necessary to assess equipment operators.

Once the evaluation is completed successfully, the employer may allow the operator to operate other equipment that the employer can demonstrate does not require substantially different skills, knowledge, or judgment to operate.

The employer must document the completion of the evaluation. This document must be available at the worksite.

When an employer is required to provide an operator with retraining, the employer must re-evaluate the operator with respect to the subject of the retraining.

Please review this template form that ISA has created for your use.  You can use the form in its current version. Or make it specific to your location, jobsite or equipment so that it best serves your needs. Or you can contact a third-party crane training firm to perform these evaluations.


Clarification: Designation of a Crane Versus Platform/Aerial Lift

If you have controls in the upper carrier (ANSI 92.2 Controls 4.3) and you do not use the hoist (ANSI 92.2 Alternative uses 3.1.3(5)), then you have an aerial platform and the company needs to qualify the operator to operate the aerial lift.

If you use the equipment for alternative uses (i.e. you use the hoist) then you are using the equipment as a crane and the operator needs to be certified as a crane operator.

NOTE regarding qualification: whether you have a certified operator or a qualified operator, the company still has to document its files with what that operator is qualified to do. This can be done within the company by "a qualified person" or it can be done by a third-party training company. Either way, the operator is required to "intelligently defend himself" if there is an accident and he is questioned. They will be required to know the law, the load chart, basket capacities, and components on the equipment at the very least. Therefore, whether the training is done within the company or through a third-party, the company is responsible for ensuring the operator is properly qualified.

Read the OSHA Regulation.

Read the OSHA interpretation letter, which helps distinguish between crane and aerial uses.


Crane Capacity Limitation Option

As an option to certifying your crane operators, an owner has the option of mechanically limiting the lifting capacity of crane(s) being operated to less than 2,000 pounds.  Several product manufacturers offer this equipment and then certify that the crane’s lifting capacity is less than the 2,000 OSHA limit.  Contact your crane manufacturer for additional information.


Nevada Sign Association Training/Certification Program

Although there are many providers who offer crane operator certification programs, the sign industry is slightly unique in the types of cranes its candidates typically operate. Recognizing that fact, NSA has developed a relationship with three training providers who will train sign industry members.

Regardless of the training provider you select, the key to passing both the written and practical examinations is following all instructions provided, including devoting a significant amount of out-of-classroom study time, and plenty of practice on the crane upon which the operator will be tested. The best chance your sign crane operators have of passing both the written and practical tests is that they are staying in a hotel near the training facility and devote each evening to studying and practicing on the crane.  This is regardless of the length of experience in the operation of a sign crane.


Cranes101 has been proudly offering Nationally Accredited Crane Operator Certification for nearly a decade. We have trained over 2,000 operators across the country on all types and capacities of mobile cranes and can boast an impressive 92% first-time pass rate. For your convenience, they bring the training on-site to you, 24/7, and handle all of the registration, paperwork, site approval, and proctoring! Bilingual instructors and exams in Spanish are also available. The entire process is handled by Cranes101 from start to finish. One call is all it takes!

Cranes101 ensures each student receives the most thorough classroom and hands-on training available. With affordable rates, fewer written exams, one practical exam for up to five certifications and test questions relevant to real-world job sites, this program is tailored for student retention and ultimate success.

The program is delivered over the course of three days with classroom training for the first two days and the written and practical exams, which may be used on your company crane, on the third and final day. 

The price for NSA members for the above-described format is $1,395 per person with a minimum class size of 8 which includes all materials and registration fees. For more information, Contact Cranes101 at (508) 966-4100 or email Sean at sean.kelly@cranes101.com or visit their website at www.cranes101.com

Liberty Crane & Rigging Consultants:

Liberty Crane and Rigging Consultants, led by Howard Kaplan, will provide classroom training to prepare operators for the written/theory test as well as practice and testing for the practical exam on a crane designed to relieve test anxiety and enhance your chances of passing the practical exam on the first attempt.  A schedule of classes is available at their website. NSA members will be offered a $100 discount off their regular prices. Let them know you are NSA members for the discount.  Your operators will be taking this training/testing along with operators from other industries. 

Gary Kubo - Training Provider:

Gary Kubo is willing to train and test at a location you identify and on your crane.  However, a minimum of 10 operators must register to schedule a class at an identified site.  Under this scenario, the service provider will bring the tester onto the site to administer the written and practical exams on the final day of instruction.  The training provider, Gary Kubo, has trained nearly 20,000 crane operators in his career.  Some of his clients who have realized a pass rate of 98% include:  Union Pacific, Mountain States Training and Nebraska Public Power.  He has also recently trained/certified 1,500 linemen in the Western U.S.  Gary says, “if an operator can read and write English, he can pass the written examination after taking this course.”  Operators whose first language is Spanish are acknowledged as being a problem in terms of pass rates.  The instruction schedule for the written examination is three to three and one-half days (depending upon applicant comprehension) from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.  The time after 3 p.m. is devoted to additional study and practicing for the practical examination with the specific crane on which the applicant will be tested. Course descriptions are available on his website.

The price for NSA members for the above-described format is $1,500 per person plus testing fees.  The price for nonmembers will be $1,800 plus testing fees. Gary will provide the practical course, submit operators’ applications to NCCCO as well as the documentation to certify each crane (separate crane certification fee applies).  A member of the sign association will be sought to donate classroom space and practical exam course space.

A final training/certification option is to sit in on another industry’s “open group” training that is being instructed by Gary.  These are infrequent and short-notice opportunities, but if you are interested in pursuing this opportunity, please submit your name to be placed on a notification list and when an opportunity presents itself, you will be notified.  Gary Kubo can be reached at (970) 260-2645.

West Coast Training:

The objective of this program is to train Graduates to enter the industry as NCCCO Certified Construction Crane Operators/Riggers. Students train to become competent operators of Hammerhead, Luffing-Jib, and Self-Erecting Tower Cranes as well as Hydraulic Boom Mobile Cranes, and Lattice Boom Mobile cranes. Successful graduates will earn 9 NCCCO Certifications. NCCCO Exams take place during the course and will include seven (7) Written & five (5) Practical Certification tests. Passing these exams results in the following nine NCCCO Certifications:(TSS) Fixed Cab Hydraulic Crane, (TLL) Swing Cab Hydraulic Crane, (LBT) Lattice Boom Truck Crane, (LBC) Lattice Boom Crawler Crane, (BTF) Boom Truck Fixed Cab Crane, (STC) Service Truck Crane, Rigger Level 1, Signalperson, and (TWR) Tower Crane Operator. Additionally, tower climbing fall-protection training is conducted early in the course, however, students who experience anxiety at heights are welcome to train and certify as self-erecting tower crane operators, as these cranes do not require operation from an elevated cab.

NCCCO certification is essential for successful employment as a crane operator. West Coast Training holds the distinction of being an approved NCCCO testing facility. The course, therefore, is tailored to give trainees the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to excel during the examination process. In the last week of this course, students will complete the NCCCO exams, using the same equipment they were trained on for the practical portion of testing. No fees are charged for the first written and practical NCCCO examinations. However, students are required to pay a nominal retesting fee in order to retake any examinations they should fail.

West Coast Training has been providing students from around the country with thorough and comprehensive construction training since 1959. We are committed to providing all participants with professional hands on tutoring from certified, experienced instructors. If you’re interested in becoming a student, feel free to contact us today!