Mandatory training

By Alex Dahm03 October 2008

Major tower crane accidents in the US this year and four in the UK since 2001 have prompted fresh ca

Major tower crane accidents in the US this year and four in the UK since 2001 have prompted fresh calls for more wide-ranging certification

In light of the recent high incidence of crane-related accidents across the US, construction contractor Flintco, Inc. has a mandatory training programme for all its employees serving as signal persons and riggers. Using what Flintco says is one of the top three ranked safety programmes in the country helps complement the company's efforts to keep employees safe.

The first half of 2008 saw an increase in crane-related accidents and fatalities in the US over previous years. During the first six months there were 170 crane-related accidents resulting in 87 fatalities, according to Flintco.

Comparing this with numbers from 1999 - 110 crane accidents and 51 fatalities - the increase in crane accidents and fatalities is alarming. To avoid adding to these statistics, Flintco is taking steps to ensure proper training and certification of all ground personnel working with crane operators.

Of the 15 US states that require licensing, nine require or recognize National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) certifications for employees either operating cranes or working on the ground in tandem with operators. Oklahoma may soon follow suit, but Flintco is taking an industry lead by providing signal person and rigger training.

"Flintco is leading the way in signal person and rigging training," said Mark Grimes, division president of Oklahoma City. "We actually started the programme in August of 2007 and have been perfecting it since then. We already have 43 employees that have completed the programme and 19 employees of subcontractors that are buying into the training."

Flintco's Oklahoma City division has nine certified crane operators now in training on the signal person and rigger certification requirements to give them updated ANSI and OSHA requirements for ground personnel.

The five-module course consists of approximately 24 hours of classroom training on basic rigging and flagging that includes:

* Hand and voice commands

* Basic knowledge of crane operations

* Situational awareness

* Basic rigger knowledge

* Advanced rigger knowledge.

On completion of the programme, employees are trained to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) specifications in order to prepare them to take the two-part signal and rigging exam, both written and practical application, which leads to certification and licensure by a third party entity.

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