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Lifting and transport association ESTA’s ground-breaking project to establish a European Crane Operator Licence (ECOL) has passed an important milestone with the establishment of the ECOL Foundation, the body that will have the job of supervising and monitoring the system of education, examination and maintenance.

“This is a significant step forward and is the culmination of a huge amount of work and consultation with ESTA members, the wider industry and relavant authorities,” said Ton Klijn, ESTA secretary.

The documents creating the ECOL Foundation were formally signed in the Netherlands on 19 May by Ton Klijn and Sander Splinter, president of ESTA’s Crane Section and managing director at Mammoet Europe.

The ECOL foundation will set the criteria for becoming an ECOL-educator and for becoming an ECOL-examination institution in this field. Only when ‘ECOL-approved’  can an organisation train and test operators for the ECOL licence and have use of the ECOL logo.

The ECOL foundation will also issue certificates and recognise diplomas, manage the ECOL register and organise continuing education.

A meeting of ESTA’s ECOL Working Group on 15 May also agreed a date to trial the project – 1 February 2018. “Once everything is in place, we will trial the system with selected groups to ensure that it is working effectively before it goes live,” Ton Klijn said.

Assuming that goes to plan, ESTA will be in a position to request the European Qualifications Framework to have ECOL registered and recognised at EQF Level 2 across Europe.

Klijn added, “We are keen to stress that ECOL does not mean experienced and qualified operators, with the necessary documentation, will need to retrain to obtain an ECOL certificate.

“It is a misunderstanding that we are proposing to retrain all of Europe’s crane operators – that is simply not the case.

“Any operator that has the necessary initial education and experience and can prove it, will not have to start from scratch, but will find it straightforward to obtain an ECOL certificate.”

ESTA believes that ECOL will raise safety standards across Europe, reduce training costs, make the industry more efficient and be of great benefit to experienced and qualified crane operators.


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