In my 30+ years as a crane operator in many different environments, I have gained essential experience that I would like to share with other operators who may not have had the opportunity to attend Crane Safety training classes.
In 1988 I worked for a training company to instruct and certify crane operators throughout the U.S. My first thought when I attended the first class was"what was I going to learn?" The class instructor was not a professional crane operator. I was a little skeptical at first, but I was willing to listen. That class lasted for five eight-hour days, and at the end of the week I had accumulated a small notebook full of information. We discussed different topics such as OSHA, ASME/ANSI standards, rigging, responsibilities, structural vs. stability ground bearing requirements, load charts, etc.
One of the most surprising topics that we discussed was the correct use of load charts. The charts we were using in class were of the same make and model of crane I had been running for four years. We were asked to do some load chart calculations, and I expected to do very well because of my past experience. I was only able to get two out of the eight correct, and it was a very humbling experience. It was then that I realized how much more there is to crane operations than just pulling the levers. After that class, I made it a priority to study standards and other requirements that I was not aware of, especially load charts
I have instructed operators throughout the U.S. and have enjoyed every class. To see the expression on a young or old operator's face when they learn something new is very gratifying. My crane operating experience, coupled with the information learned through different training classes, gives me a very unique perspective on crane operation.
After teaching a class, someone will usually tell me that they enjoyed the class and talk about how much they have learned. I will never know if I have actually prevented accidents or not, but I would like to think that I have. Being an operator and an instructor is like second nature to me. I can teach operators on a professional level because I am an operator myself.
I have long thought that the crane operating industry needed some type of certification. This certification should be of a quality that actually indicates a crane operator's ability. As an experienced operator, I can tell the minute someone gets in a crane and begins to work if they are an experienced crane operator or a just a lever puller.
I have endorsed the CCO fully because of their rigid written test alongside a practical operating exam. I have been through the entire process of CCO certification and hold all four endorsements as well as being accredited as a Practical Examiner. When I took the CCO written exam for the first time, I realized that there were going to be a lot of operators who would have a hard time answering the questions.
When I first started in the construction business, I was a very young man. My father was a crane operator, and at that time there were not a lot of standards in the industry like there are today. It was learn-as-you-go type of operation. My dad taught me to be ahead of the crane and its movements, and I believe that thought has carried me through many years of operation. I am very proud of the fact that throughout my operating years I have never had an accident. I would like for every operator, young and old, to have that same sense of pride in their job.
I have been preparing operators to pass the written exam for quite a few years. Before class, I'm sure that most of their thoughts were similar to mine regarding what they were going to learn. In the beginning of class I have watched their attitudes change from"what am I going to learn?" to"I am amazed at waht I have learned." Without the preparation class, it is extremely difficult for an operator to pass the written exam.
For a real operator, the practical operating exam is what they do everyday. An operator may get a little nervous when he's being tested, but their experience will prevail and the pass rate is very high.
The information that I share with operators in these training classes will carry with them for years to come. I met an elderly operator in one of my classes who told me something that I hadn't given much thought before. We were talking about how training may be a little bit time consuming and costly, when he told me"If you think training is expensive, try ignorance."
As I leave my thoughts with you, I appreciate your time reading my information about why I think this type of training is extremely valuable.
A J"Bud" Wilson