Crane Operator Qualifications Revised


A well-trained operator is certified, and knows how to recognize and avoid crane-related hazards that can place workers at risk.

Being capable of moving heavy loads is crucial to underground construction and nothing is more important to moving loads safely with a crane than a well-trained, skilled, and knowledgeable crane operator. A well-trained operator is certified, and knows how to recognize and avoid crane-related hazards that can place workers at risk.

When OSHA created the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard Subpart CC (29CFR1926.1427), the organization recognized the importance of ensuring that a crane operator is qualified to operate a specific type of crane and included requirements for certification/licensing for operating a crane of a specific type and capacity. The Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) and an overwhelming number of construction stakeholders had an issue with these requirements. The stakeholders asked OSHA to revisit the requirements.

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After careful consideration OSHA concluded that the capacity requirement for certification is not necessary to protect workers. OSHA, which is part of the Department of Labor, is also concerned that a shortage of certified operators would disrupt the construction industry severely. In addition, the two testing organizations that have already certified a large number of operators only issued certifications by type. Therefore, OSHA on May 18, 2018, proposed removing the requirement that operators be certified by a crane’s lifting capacities (in addition to certification by type of crane).

While certification helps to ensure that operators are trained, skilled, and knowledgeable and can operate a crane safely, it does not ensure that operators know how to operate a particular crane and perform a specific task. The new rule places the responsibility on the employer to ensure that operators are qualified to operate the equipment they are assigned to. Obviously, they are only to be assigned to the type of crane they are certified for. This provision was included to preserve a requirement for employers to evaluate their operator’s ability to safely run the cranes they will be using for the tasks they are assigned.

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Operator Certification

A crane operator can meet OSHA’s certification requirements by obtaining certification from:

  • an accredited third-party crane certification organization such as the National Commission for Certification of Crane Operators or the National Center for Construction Education and Research (certification is portable)
  • an audited employer program from an employer whose program is audited every three years by an accredited third-party (certification is not portable)
  • an official state or local licensing board that meets OSHA’s requirements (may or may not be portable within the state, check regulations)

Note: military training and qualifications are not portable and are only acceptable for military-related operations.

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After ensuring that an operator is properly certified, an employer must also evaluate the operator’s ability to safely operator and perform the tasks with the crane he/she will be operating. The employer must ensure that the evaluation is performed by a person who has the training, knowledge, skills and experience to evaluate the operator’s capabilities and knowledge. Once an operator is certified and has passed an evaluation, the employer may allow the operator to use different equipment without additional evaluation if the employer can demonstrate that operating the different equipment would not require the operator to possess additional knowledge and skills. For example, operating a similar smaller crane and performing similar tasks would be acceptable, but operating a larger crane, or using different attachments may require additional evaluation.

The evaluation must be documented, including the operator’s name, the evaluator’s name and signature, the date of the evaluation, and the make, model and configuration of the equipment used in the evaluation. The employer must be able to produce the evaluation at the worksite.

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If your operator(s) were employed by your company and evaluated prior to Dec. 10, 2018, you may rely on your previous assessments. The documentation must include the date of assessment, and the make, model and configuration of the crane used to perform the evaluation. All certified operators must be evaluated by Feb. 7, 2019.

Operators must be recertified every five years to ensure they have retained their knowledge and are aware of any changes to the regulations and technology. Retraining is only required if the operator is not competent. Retraining includes evaluation.

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OSHA does not require certification of operators of cranes with lifting capacities of 2,000 pounds or less. In general, delivery of materials using a truck mounted crane is not considered construction when the crane is not used to position the materials or object in a particular way. Delivery only.

There are other exclusions listed in the scope of the standard. Refer to the standard for additional information.

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The Standard and Crain Safety

The crane standard was developed by consensus of industry representatives and the prevailing view is the standard will significantly improve crane safety. The standard is final and companies must ensure that their crane operators are trained, knowledgeable, skill, and evaluated.
Companies planning to train crane operators should review the regulation to determine what must be done to accomplish training and certification. For a copy of the regulation, frequently asked questions and more information about crane operator training and certification visit the OSHA website at

Addition of process of evaluation

Operator certifications must still meet all other certification requirements in 29 CFR §1926.1427, and employers must continue to comply with applicable state and local operator licensing requirements.

Crane Operator Requirements

The Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard (the crane standard, 29 CFR Part 1926, subpart CC) includes requirements for operators of equipment covered by the standard. The effective date for its certification requirements is Nov. 10, 2018.

George Kennedy is NUCA’s Vice President of Safety.


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  • I’m grateful for being informed about your article’s new revised version of the crane operator qualifications. It’s implemented stricter certifications for the operators, reducing complacency and promoting a more positive workplace safety approach.