Training and safety services in high demand

By D.Ann Shiffler10 January 2019

Crane safety and training companies are seeing demand for their services heighten as crane companies and operating unions try to understand the new crane operator certification mandate by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Lead photo (9)

Many companies held off certifying their operators while the rule was extended. Now there is a rush for training and certified trainers.

“We have seen a surge and expect a similar surge in NCCCO certification training and exams for operators that missed the deadline to get certified by Dec 10, 2018,” said Billy Cook, NCCCO-certified Mobile Crane Operator and Rigger, and sales director for Crane Inspection & Certification Bureau (CICB). “Right now, TSS, TLL and LBC are the most popular specialty certifications, followed by Articulating Boom Crane Operator and Service Truck Crane Operator Certifications.”

Cook said the highest training and certification activity appears to be in Texas and Florida.

Simulator partnership


The SIM 61 simulator is the result of a partnership between Acreos and AMCS Technologies. AMCS Technologies specializes in anti-collision and zoning systems while Acreos develops virtual training simulators, reproducing as closely as possible the conditions of a real work environment. The two companies are bringing together crane operator training and crane operator aids.


The SIM 61 allows the creation of a virtual jobsite by reproducing a three-dimensional environment. It gives the user the possibility to choose a place (city, desert, shipyard), the size of the jobsite, the type and size of the machines (tower cranes, luffing cranes, mobile cranes), the type and size of the building (number of floors, shapes) and to set all the data of the cranes (number, jib length, load, speed).

The partnership is likely to produce more technologies in the simulation arena.

Hard push

Many companies held off certifying their operators while the rule was extended, according to Ted Blanton, general manager, NACB Group.

“We are seeing a hard push for NCCER Mobile Crane Operator Certification, at least 50 percent of our current schedule is training and certifying Mobile Crane Operators. We are so backed up we are currently training more NCCER Practical Examiner’s to backfill our client’s needs,” Blanton said.

Industrial Training International operates nine training centers around the United States. Jason Hobson, director of customer success for ITI, said calls for its training services started picking up way before the final rule was published.

“Some people were completely blind sighted by this and our training solution team has done a great job of diagnosing the issues and solving them for our clients,” said Hobson. “We’ve seen our open enrollment centers in Woodland, WA and Houston have to add classes throughout the year. There has definitely been a rush.”

The OSHA Crane Operator Certification Final Rule is also generating lots of questions, especially about the operator evaluation process. With the new OSHA rule, employers must, through an evaluation process, ensure operators are qualified to operate the machine to which they are assigned. (The components of these evaluations are spelled out in Section 1926.1427(f) – Evaluation).

“Clients are asking if a third-party can be used to satisfy the employers requirement to qualify the operator(s) on the specific crane in its current configuration, at the site it is being used at,” Blanton said. “The answer is yes.”

The final rule allows employers to rely on previous operator assessments to meet this requirement for operators employed prior to December 10, 2018. Although the evaluation and documentation requirements are not currently in effect, companies need to address this part of the rule when it goes into effect in February 2019.

“Companies will either have one of their employees evaluate their crane operators or they will hire a third party to do the assessment checklist, which they can use to designate in writing their crane operators as qualified,” said Cook. “Third-party evaluators will not designate any crane operators as qualified.”

Cook said that CICB is currently researching the liability of the possibility of offering to be a third-party crane operator evaluator.

Simulator training

NACB has been active in the use of simulator-based training, and reaction to its virtual reality (VR) system has been excellent, Blanton said.

“We believe the NACB - Interactive Education Systems (ies) VR simulation is the very best option available to the end user, as our simulation requires no annual subscription to access various scenarios and the system allows the user to build their own exercises and levels of difficulty,” Blanton said. “Training of operators through simulation allows the participant to be taught how to react in situations such as contact with powerlines, without the dangers of actual contact with live lines, simulated overload conditions caused by increased radius, such as telescoping out, or booming down. Additionally, using simulation allows honing the operators load control skills, such as controlling swing and shock loading.”

The NACB ies platform provides lifting environments and scenarios that allow operators to improve their skill and track their progress. According to Blanton, VR simulation provides a true crane cab experience that includes responsive, realistic physics, crane operations, lifting environments and data management. Built in VR scenarios provide the ability to add multiple obstacles and components to customize the environment. The integrated data management system allows instructors to monitor the student’s utilization of the system, create user groups, build individualized exercises and assign them to a student or group.


Crane manufacturers are using simulators in research and development, prototyping, sales and marketing and customer education. 

Industrial Training International (ITI) has also been a leading developer of VR simulator training.

In early 2018, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard selected ITI VR Crane Simulations to support their crane operator training and assessment programs. ITI was awarded the Hardware Simulators – Crane Operator Training Aids and Devices contract, which has drawn the interest of multiple U.S. Navy locations around the world.

The newest location is the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard - Naval Sea Systems Command, which received two VR simulators – a desktop and a motion-based simulator, and ITI Unlimited Crane Library subscription, which allows the Navy operators to benefit from additional crane models, new scenarios and updates as they are released, according to ITI’s Hobson.

ITI continues to expand its VR Crane Simulations, adding the Overhead Crane Simulator late last year, and its Tower Crane simulator program is set for an early 2019 release. ITI’s VR simulator programs include rough terrain, lattice boom crawler, boom truck and carry deck cranes.

Starting from scratch

ITI started its VR simulator program in 2016 after evaluating contemporary crane training simulator options.

“We are always looking at trends and the solutions required,” said Hobson. “We are looking out for the students at our nine training centers. We wanted to see more solutions for hands-on training time and so we evaluated all the simulator programs available. We didn’t feel comfortable with what we saw so we developed our own.”

CICB offers simulator training at its Houston Career School.

“We generally use the simulator for new operators,” said Cook. “Before we put them in the seat of a crane, we want to make sure they can operate a simulator.”

Cook said that young people often prefer training on a simulator because they are used to the “video game” technology. Simulators are good for introducing different lifting scenarios to the prospective operator, he said.

While the instructors at CICB see the benefit of simulators, they are still seen as a tool in the total training process.

“You can’t just use a simulator to teach someone to operate a crane,” said Cook. “There are good online classes too, but again, you can’t teach someone to operate a crane online.”

The best way to train people is through classroom instructors and working in the seat of the crane, once all the basics have been taught, Cook said.

“If there’s an instructor-led classroom, that’s a far better place to really learn how to operate a crane than on a simulator,” said Cook. “Simulators do have a place in training but they don’t provide the true experience of being in the operator seat of a real machine.”

Equipment simulators can be used for more than just training, according to Drew Carruthers, product line manager for construction products at CM Labs Simulations.

“Simulators can help inform accident causes and risk reduction measures, they can be used as a sales or recruitment tool, or in equipment design,” Carruthers said.

CM LABS Local 14 crane simulator

Simulators allow new trainees to practice before getting into the seat of an expensive crane.

Affordable training

Contractors and unions, which typically use simulators for internal skill development, have different objectives than schools and training companies, according to Carruthers.

For example, design-build general contractor Conewago Enterprises was looking for a more affordable way to manage the constant stream of operators needing training.

“Previously, the company rented equipment, which was both expensive and required them to hire an instructor for one-on-one training,” Carruthers explained. “After employing a CM Labs Vortex simulator with training packs for rough-terrain crane, crawler crane, excavator and wheel loader, they reduced their training costs by 60 percent. The company also found that training on the simulator improved pass rates on crane operator certification exams.”

Crane manufacturers are also using simulators in research and development, prototyping, sales and marketing, and customer education, he said. Recently, Manitowoc Cranes employed CM Labs to integrate its new Crane Control System into a Vortex simulator, so dealers and customers could experience the CCS on a true-to-life worksite, Carruthers said.

The simulator replicates the functionality and behavior of a 40-ton Grove RT540E under the control of an actual CCS user interface, he continued. The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) is conducting a study comparing performance on certification exams when operators train on live equipment versus a simulator.

“It’s not unlikely that someday simulators could be used for practical exam testing for certification,” Carruthers said.

Directory of select training, safety, certification and inspection services* 

ACRA Enterprises

All Crane Training USA

All Test & Inspection


America Crane Training Services

American Crane Training & Consulting

American International Crane Bureau (AIC)

American Test Center

Apprenticeship & Skill Improvement Program


Associated Training Services

Atlantic Crane Inspections Service

Barth Crane Inspections

BC Association for Crane Safety

California Crane School

Cairo Marine Service

CH C&R Consultants

Columbus McKinnon Training

Construction Safety Experts

Crane Certification Services

Crane Exam

Crane Industry Services

Crane Inspection & Certification Bureau (CICB)

Crane Inspection Services

Crane Institute Certification

Crane Institute of America

Crane Operators Certification and Inspections

Cranes 101

Crane Safety Associates of America

Crane Tech

Crane U

Crane Wise Certifications


Crawford Custom Consulting

Domson Engineering & Inspection

Equipment Safety Services

Equipment Training Solutions

Falck Safety Services

Global Crane & Rigging Certification

Global Environment Network

Hite Services Limited


Industrial Training International

Industrial Training Solutions

Industry Training Authority

Institute for Safety and Health Management

International Training & Safety

IPT Publishing & Training

Ives Training & Compliance Group

KC Training Technology

Lift-It Manufacturing

Morrow Training Center

National Commission for the Certification

of Crane Operators (NCCCO)

National Crane Inspection

National Crane Services

Nationwide Crane Training


North American Crane Bureau

Occupational Safety Training Systems

Operating Engineers Training Institute

Operator Network

Overton Safety Training

Pellow Engineering Services

Quad City Testing Laboratory

R Spec Crane Inspectors

Safety Provisions

Safety Resources Unlimited

Sensible Safety

Southern Apprenticeship & Training

Sylvan Enterprises

The Center for Construction

Research and Training

The Crane School

The Safety Zone

Total Crane Services

Total Equipment Training

Tower Crane Inspection Bureau

Tower Crane School of Phoenix

TSC Training Academy

Turner Safety

West Coast Training

Working Class Heroes Safety


 *Excerpted from the 2019 American Cranes & Transport Sourcebook. 

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D.Ann Shiffler Editor, American Cranes & Transport Tel: +1 512 869 8838 E-mail:
Matt Burk VP Sales Tel: +1 312 496 3314 E-mail: