Refreshing skills: a look at training and certification

By Laura Hatton08 April 2014

Tower crane training at Manitowoc's Shady Grove yard

Tower crane training at Manitowoc's Shady Grove yard

To help avoid accidents, trade contractors are increasingly requiring operators to have completed an accredited training course and achieved certification before carrying out lifting work on site. Contractors increasingly refuse to allow operators on site if they do not carry the relevant accreditation, Kerry Edwards, public relations manager at GGR Group and Unic Cranes Europe, says.

“There is a common misconception that because compact plant like mini spider cranes are smaller it means that there is less risk involved when operating them,” Edwards adds, “But as with any piece of construction equipment, when used incorrectly by inexperienced operators they can be dangerous.”

The importance of operator training has been expressed in various studies carried out by institutions, as Jim Headley, Crane Institute of America president and director, explains, “According to OSHA research and Province of Ontario studies, 80 % fewer crane-related deaths and 50 % fewer accidents occur with certified crane operators.”

Despite the understanding of how vital operator training is, the standard of training varies from country to country, with each also having different requirements and regulations regarding certification, Frank Schröder, director of commercial and product support strategy at Terex, points out.

John Alexander, responsible for global integrated technical communications at Manitowoc, adds, “I believe that operator certification and licensing needs to be specific to the crane the operator is using, not just a generic tonnage capacity. Cranes incorporate more technology than ever so it’s now more important than ever to validate your skills on the crane you will be using. Today’s control systems are very different compared to 20 years ago.”

Training services
One way to improve safety on site is to improve people’s behaviour and attitude. This idea was expressed by Klaus Meissner, Terex director of product integrity and Søren Jansen, ESTA director, in their presentation Root causes of mobile crane accidents and how to reduce them at the 2013 World Crane and Transport Summit (

Klaus Meissner, says, “Skilled and trained crane operators are key to jobsite safety. Terex Cranes offers basic to advanced training services from operator to technician and certifies the operators that take part in training, however, it does not issue operator licences. We also offer operator coaching at real jobsites.”

Frank Schröder, adds, “For practice we tend to favour real crane experience in a simulated environment. A typical example can be of a participant having to manoeuvre a load through a course relying on the instructions from the signalman. If we see that a simulator could aid or improve the training for a special application, we use simulators.”

Another provider of training is the Association of Lorry Loader Manufacturers and Importers (ALLMI) in the UK. ALLMI offers training accreditation for lorry loader cranes, including lorry loader operator, slinger, signaller and crane supervisor. The operator course covers legislation, pre-operational checks, maintenance instruction, lifting equipment and attachments. Training covers the deployment of stabiliser legs, use of controls, preparing the loader crane, operating and stowing. The final stage of the course includes a theory and practical assessment, plus final administration and candidate feedback. For the operator course training cards are categorised to reflect items such as the size of lorry loader, attachment type and control system. The training can take place either at the training providers’ premises or the customers’, as long as the facilities comply with ALLMI’s terms and conditions of training in accordance with BS7121 Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Cranes: Part 4:2010.

The Crane Institute of America offers training courses for crane operators and inspectors so people can be trained to use the equipment. This is followed by certification, which means the operators are certified to use the machines on site. “Crane Institute of America is an authorised written and practical examiner for Crane Institute Certification (CIC), which offers NCCA and OSHA-recognised certifications for crane operators, riggers, and signalpersons,” Headley says, “In the three day mobile crane operator course, topics covered include OSHA and ASME crane standards, causes and results of crane accidents, components and terminology, interpreting load charts, pre-operational inspection, crane setup, safe operating practices, hand and voice signals, hoisting personnel and basic rigging. Our advanced rigger course covers inspecting and using load and snatch blocks, chain hoists, determining load weight, drifting and turning loads and multi-crane lifts.” The training programmes are conducted at Crane Institute’s facility near Orlando, USA. Here three different types of mobile cranes, an overhead gantry crane and a crane simulator are available.

Manufacturer Manitowoc also offers operator training. John Alexander says, “In the US our operator training is primarily introductory training, focusing on LMI setup and crane controls. In France for our tower crane products, we issue operator licenses and certifications that are nationally recognised. Other than in France they are primarily beginner courses and not focused on lifting. The technical certification process involves a series of tests using different cranes and simulators. This certification is valid for three years.

GGR Group offers Construction Plant Competency Scheme (CPCS) A66 accredited courses in Endorsements A, B, C and D for compact cranes, including Unic mini spider cranes, pick and carry cranes and mini telescopic crawler cranes.

“The courses last from two to five days depending on experience,” a company spokesperson says, “The CPCS A66 course involves classroom and practical training, which covers theory, principles of lift, safety and operator responsibilities. The hands-on training covers pre-use checks and preparation for work, travelling, manoeuvring, lifting and placing loads and configuration for lifting duties.

“Once the operator has passed the A66 training course they receive a CPCS A66 competency ID card and GGR certification,” Edwards adds, “Courses are run in Manchester and Buckinghamshire, UK, where learners practice manoeuvring the crane and negotiating obstacles. Before learners can take part they must have passed a Construction Skills CPCS Health and Safety touch screen test within the last two years.”

Crane manufacturer also offer a number of training facilities and courses for crane personnel. At Liebherr-Great Britain, based in the UK, a range of courses for operators is offered, along with product training for sales and after sales departments. “We recently delivered training to Ainscough for the new LTM 1750-9.1,” David Croft, Liebherr GB marketing and public relations manager, says, “This was a two week course.”

In addition to the product training Liebherr UK also offer CPCS accredited courses for crawler crane, slinger and signaller, mobile crane, appointed person and crane supervisor. “A wind training module is also included in all our courses,” Croft adds. The training centre is based in Biggleswade, UK. It has a training area and candidates can operate and work with a LTM1030/1 mobile crane.

Training simulators
As was first seen in the operator training feature in the August 2013 issue of IC, simulators are becoming a popular addition to training facilities around the world. Crane manufacturer Kobelco, for example, is building a G Series service training simulator. According to the manufacturer, the simulator will be used to train service personnel from dealers to crane owners. They have been designed for customers’ yards and onsite training facilities. The G-Series simulator was on display at ConExpo show 2014 alongside the CK-III simulator.

Liebherr also launched its range of maritime crane simulators to help increase port safety and productivity through training. The range of simulated cranes includes ship to shore, rubber tyred gantry, mobile harbour and offshore cranes.

Liebherr Simulators (LiSIM) allows trainees to improve their skills in a virtual maritime environment, helping prevent damage to maritime equipment and injuries to port personnel and without interfering with day to day port operations. Simulator training can replicate harsh environmental conditions, so trainees can, for example, practice cargo handling in weather conditions such as snowfall, heavy wind and rain, and high waves. Levels can be modified according to training requirements. The simulators have a driver’s cabin, control panel and a motion platform for realistic crane movement. It also has full high definition flat screen monitors and surround-sound speakers.

The most recent Liebherr simulator (LiSIM) is for deep foundation and lifting applications and was launched at ConExpo 2014 in Las Vegas, USA. It includes simulation of an LR 1300 crawler crane. A construction site has been virtually created with adjacent buildings, roads and fences as well as obstacles such as uneven ground, I-beams and rocks.

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