As OSHA’s requirement for crane operators to be – and stay – certified approaches, NCCCO is rolling out recertification exams for its newest programs.
Recertification exams for Service Truck Crane Operators were launched in April, while two more are being prepared for release in late summer and fall: Digger Derrick Operator (September), and Lift Director (October).
The requirement to recertify every five years is a key aspect of NCCCO’s ANSI accreditation, as required by the international standard ISO 17024 to which CCO certification exams are accredited. And it ensures that operators’ knowledge remains current. NCCCO’s Exam Management Committees work together to determine the content of each recertification exam with a major emphasis on questions that relate to the latest industry trends in crane technology and standards, as well as areas where there have been records of incidents/accidents related to a particular area of crane operation.
“Recertification tests are less expensive and require less time than the full initial exams,” noted NCCCO Commission Chairman Ellis Vliet. “Obviously, it is far better, and simpler, to keep something you already have than to lose it and start over, so it makes sense for those who are already certified to maintain their certified status, especially with OSHA’s certification requirement likely to become effective shortly.”
That message seems to have been heard loud and clear: Through July of this year, a full 26 percent of all CCO exams administered were recertification exams, representing 36 percent of all written exams administered.
Nearly half (45 percent) of those recertifying take advantage of the computer-based testing (CBT) option, rather than traditional paper/pencil testing. CBT is available at more than 400 testing centers around the country; they are in every major metropolitan area as well as many rural areas, so nearly all candidates are within an hour or two drive of at least one.
CBT also enables more flexible scheduling to make it easier to find a time that doesn’t interfere with work obligations, and it provides immediate results so candidates know whether they’ve passed their test(s) and will continue to be certified for another five years.
Of the more than 81,000 currently certified CCO operators, 43 percent have recertified at least once. “Certification is quite rightly viewed as a hard-won credential, and it makes perfect sense that anyone who has achieved that would want to preserve and protect it for another five-year period, and beyond,” commented NCCCO CEO, Graham Brent. If, however, certificants do not complete—and pass—all the requirements for recertification before their certification period expires, then they must complete the same exams required for their initial certification.
Most programs require only a written exam for recertification (operators who can attest to a specific amount of crane-related experience do not need to take a practical exam).
Those not meeting the required minimum during their certification period must also take the same practical exam they took for their initial certification. The exception is the CCO Signalperson program which instead requires a practical exam at recertification.
Some CCO certificants have recertified as many as four times, going back to the initial mobile crane operator certification first made available in 1996. Those select few who’ve continuously maintained their CCO certification for this entire time are recognized as “4-Star” operators, while those who have recertified three times receive “3-star” accolades, two-time recertificants are designated as “2-star,” and first-time recertificants are “1-star.”
As each level is achieved, operators are sent hard hat decals with the appropriate number of stars to show off their achievement.