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Industry Responds to OSHA Testing Ultimatum

March 2013 - Employers across the country appear to be paying heed to the approaching OSHA deadline for construction crane operators to be formally qualified, and are signing up in record numbers for certification exams at test sites nationwide.

While the trend has been increasing for a number of years, the uptick was more pronounced in 2012 that ever before, said Manager of Program Development and Administration for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), Joel Oliva.

“We’re seeing growth in virtually every region of the country,” Oliva said, “and year-on-year increases of more than 50% are not uncommon in many states.”

OSHA has set a deadline of November 10, 2014, by which most crane operators working in construction must be certified.

Also fueling the spike in test volume is the increasing availability of CCO type-specific certifications. In accordance with OSHA requirements, NCCCO now offers specific certifications for operators of articulating boom cranes (or “knucklebooms”), and digger derricks. The newest addition to the line of certifications is the Service Truck Crane Operator program being readied for launch in the second quarter.

These cranes, also known as "mechanics’ trucks," must also be operated by certified operators when used for construction work. While in practice not every variant of crane will have its own certification, Oliva said, the OSHA rule is clear that, where a certification for a specific type exists, the industry must utilize it.

Just as significantly, those operators who are already certified are making sure they hold onto their credential. Recertification rates are at record levels, and computer test centers—popular among recertification candidates for their ease of scheduling and immediate score reporting—are opening up more and more seats to accommodate the increased volume, Oliva noted.


NCCCO now offers specific certifications for operators of articulating boom cranes (seen being used for practical exams at the recent World of Concrete conference and exhibition in Las Vegas), digger derricks and (shortly) service truck cranes.

For additional history on OSHA’s Crane Rule, see NCCCO’s OSHA Crane Rule Resource Center.