Crane Operator Certification – Capacity or type (CIC vs. NCCCO)


April 10, 2013

Director Jim Maddux
Directorate of Construction
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N-3468
Washington, DC 2021 0

Re: Crane Operator Certification – Capacity and Type

Dear Director Maddux:

The International Union of Operating Engineers (“IUOE”) appreciated the opportunity to present our views and to hear the comments of the other participants in the stakeholder meeting conducted by OSHA on April 2 and 3, 20 13.

This letter follows up on the IUOE’s November 28, 2012 letter which requested clarification that an operator who is certified on a type of crane may operate all cranes of that type regardless of capacity. In the interests of timely addressing the facts adduced at the stakeholder meeting concerning “capacity and type,” the IUOE will address in a separate letter facts and legal arguments relating to OSHA’s view that certificants should be “deemed qualifie~” in 1926.1427(b)(2).

READ LETTER FULL LETTER  IUOE-OSHA-Stake-holder-letter  pdf

I. Comments by ANSI and Testing Organizations on Arbitrariness of Practical Testing by Capacity
All four accredited testing organizations (also known as “certification bodies”) – the Operating Engineers Certification Program (“OECP”), the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (“NCCCO”), the Crane
Institute of America (“CIC”), and the National Center for Construction Education
and Research (“NCCER”) – expressed the view that the degree of difficulty in
operating a crane is affected by configuration, boom length, and attachments, but that
capacity itself is meaningless and the selection of capacity bands is arbitrary.
The CIC and the NCCER admit that compliance with OSHA’s postrulemaking
requirement is the reason that they offer separate certifications for
different capacities of the same type. Neither OSHA nor these organizations pointed
to a scintilla of evidence that safety is advanced by capacity bands.

Ted Blanton, who is the owner of a training company, North American Crane
Bureau, which is closely affiliated with NCCER spoke on behalf of the NCCER.
Mr. Blanton stated that the NCCER “put in capacity when this rule was written. We can easily take it out.” He also stated that NCCER could not get “enough psychometric data” to figure out what is proper.

B. The CIC
James Headley, president and owner of Crane Institute of America, a training
company, and Crane Institute Certification (CIC), and Nathan Dickinson appeared
on behalf of the CIC at the stakeholder meeting. Mr. Dickinson commented that CIC
selected capacity bands for certifications following OSHA’s announcement
concerning capacity and type at earlier stakeholder meetings, and that the CIC would
not have done so if OSHA had not announced the requirement of separate
certification for different capacities of the same type. He further stated that capacity
may be “arbitrary”, but it is required by OSHA, and that “depending upon how this
meeting [the stakeholder meeting] turns out,” CIC would “possibly” develop a “300-
ton certification.” Mr. Dickinson added that “we have to draw the line somewhere.”
Mr. Headley stated that the CTC “always had in mind boom length” and
luffers in creating capacity bands and that it is “harder to pass a test with long boom
versus short boom.”

Larry Hopkins, a member of the Board of Directors of the OECP and
Assistant Director of Training of IUOE Local 12 Operating Engineers Training
Trust, participated on behalf of the OECP.
Mr. Hopkins stated that mastery of the skills needed to safely operate cranes
is an ongoing process since cranes themselves, particularly the electronics, evolve
rapidly. He opined that proper use of an “LMI,” a load moment indicator, “evolves
so quickly” that testing organizations “cannot keep up with it.”
Mr. Hopkins commented that differentiating between capacities was “nothing
more than a fa9ade”; that pass rates did not “discriminate statistically” for different
capacities of the same crane type; and that setting of capacity bands is “arbitrary and
capricious.” According to Mr. Hopkins, it is not the “amount of weight” that a crane
can lift that requires higher levels of skill “but the configurations that it can be put
into.” He also stated that if the job tasks do not differ according to size, there is no
need to conduct a separate test for the same tasks on the performance assessment.
Mr. Hopkins stated that to obtain accreditation, there must be a level of validity for
each test. He posed the question, “Where’s the study that says you need all these
different tests?”
I am attaching for your information a November 28, 2006 letter from Ron
Havlick, Executive Director of OECP, formerly known as the Southern California
Crane &. Hoisting Certification Program (“SCCHCP”), concerning “certification
consolidation.” At that time, the SCCHCP provided certifications in six different
categories, including categories which differentiated based on crane capacity:

Lattice Boom Crawler Crane  Lattice Boom Crane Lattice Boom Truck Crane = Lattice
Over 40 Ton Telescopic Boom Crane 40 Ton & Under Telescopic Boom Crane = Telescopic Boom Crane
Boom Truck = Boom Truck
TowerCrane = TowerCrane

As stated in Mr. Havlick’s letter, a “Job Task Analysis” was conducted by
“Subject Matter Experts” to confirm the hypothesis that consolidation of “select
certifications could be accomplished with no detrimental effects on the program’s
ability to assess qualified minimally competent crane operators.” The SCCHCP then
hired an independent, third-party statistician to conduct a statistical analysis of the
test data, and the accrediting body, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies
(“NCCA”), agreed that certification consolidation was appropriate.

Currently, the OECP offers certifications on crane types without regard to the
crane capacity:
• Boom truck crane
• Lattice boom crane
• Telescopic boom crane
• Tower crane
As noted in Mr. Havlick’s November 28, 2006 letter, the crane capacity selected by
the OECP for testing depends on “availability at any particular testing site.”

NCCCO Executive Director Graham Brent commented that certification
involves the testing of “fundamentals” and “no test could ever cover the multitude of
crane configurations.”
Mr. Brent and former C-DAC member Bill Smith both commented that
NCCCO had more tests when they first started, but at the recommendation of the
accrediting agency, the NCCCO reduced the number of tests.1 The accrediting
agency viewed the number of tests – 12 mobile crane tests – as unnecessary if the
same percentage of those tested would pass each similar test. After review by
NCCCO’s psychometric consultants at the time, the number of tests was ultimately
reduced to just four after they determined that further testing revealed nothing additional about the candidate’s skill level and that therefore it didn’t differentiate between different levels of proficiency. Mr. Smith stated that the NCCCO was creating “more tests to get the same results.”

A reference to capacity was initially retained in two categories:, “Small Telescopic Crane, Below 17.5 tons Capacity” and “Large Telescopic Crane, Above 17.5 tons Capacity.” However, the capacity threshold of 17.5 tons was selected because it marked the point at which crane manufacturer Grove switched controls in its crane model range from fixed cab controls to swing cab controls. In other words, capacity was merely a function of the real determinant of a change in skills, namely
control system. Subsequently, the NCCCO changed the name of these two categories to more accurately reflect this fact, namely Telescopic Boom Crane, Fixed Cab and Telescopic Boon Crane, Swing Cab, which is how it stands today.

Dr. Roy Swift of the American National Standards Institute stated that there
is no “data that says capacity is a factor” in assessing operator competence and that
there would need to be a “national study” to “establish that for validation.”
According to Dr. Swift, the selection of bands was not the product of a job task
The comments of Dr. Daniel R. Winder, PhD of Course Outcomes, Inc., were
consistent with the views of ANSI. Dr. Winder stated that the “practical” test is a
misnomer, and that the hands-on test should be called a “performance” test because
the tests do not simulate the actual functions executed on worksites.
F. OSHA’s Statements at the Stakeholder Meeting
OSHA pointed out at all three stakeholder meetings that the CIC and NCCER
allegedly offer separate certifications based upon different capacities of the same
crane type apparently in support of feasibility. OSHA further stated at these
meetings that it is prepared to let the “marketplace rule” in the establishment of
certification standards of accredited testing organizations and that “certifYing bodies
will need to add new tests and certifications as needed.” As stated in the IUOE’s
November 28, 2012letter to you, OSHA should not permit private market forces to
dictate the number of certifications required.
OSHA stated at the stakeholder meetings that “capacity and type”
requirement originated with C-DAC. The three participants who are former C-DAC
members, Robert Weiss, Vice President of Crane, Inc. in Queens, New York; Bill
Smith, Executive Vice President, Nations Builders Insurance Company; and George
R. “Chip” Pocock, C.P. Buckner Steel, strongly disputed OSHA’s statement. As Bill
Smith pointed out, “If C-DAC thought capacity was so important, they would have
made sure capacity got included in options 2, 3 and 4.”

II. Invalidation of Certifications
The participants in the stakeholder meeting raised other cogent arguments
which demonstrate that the record does not support imposition of capacity bands.
NCCCO Executive Director Graham Brent commented that the SBREFA’s cost
analysis did not contemplate that 58,000 NCCCO certifications would be
invalidated. Bill Smith expressed concern that the expense of obtaining new
certifications would be imposed on blue collar workers if existing certifications are
invalidated. He further stated that operators would be unable to obtain work if the
capacity and type of their certifications did not enable them to legally perform
available work.

III. Commentary on the Operation of High “Capacity” Cranes
There was no disagreement among the participants that certification bodies
conduct performance exams test with only a light load on the hook, using a single
part line which dramatically reduces the “maximum rated capacity” of the crane
advertised by the manufacturer. The overwhelming majority of participants
expressed the view that performing the same practical tests with a larger capacity
crane will not assess the skill of the operator with greater reliability. Here is a
representative sampling of the views ofthe participants:

• Barry Cole of Preferred Safety Consulting stated that it does not
matter “a bit about size. A 25 ton friction rig is a lot more
challenging to operate than a 300 ton hydro.”

• Randy Stemp of Lampson International: “Tonnage doesn’t imply
greater skill; it’s the control system that determines skill.”

• Bob Berry of Sims Crane & Equipment stated that, in considering
a crane’s capacity, one cannot “just look at what is written on the
side of the crane” because capacity changes depending on what is
on the boom. Mr. Berry posed the question: “A 1,000 ton crane
becomes a 3.5 ton crane when lifting on one part of line, so what
capacity are you talking about?”

• George R. “Chip” Pocock, C.P. Buckner Steel, appeared on behalf
of Associated General Contractors of America (“AGC”) and
stated that the AGC cannot support “banding” or
“disenfranchisement of crane operators” and that “capacity has to
be eliminated.”

• Dan Reda, ofiUOE Local I 50’s training program, which is one of
the largest training programs in the country, stated that greater
capacity alone does not make a test more difficult, but use of
higher capacity cranes makes administration of practical tests
more costly. He noted, in particular, the costs of transporting high
capacity cranes to testing sites.

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