Signs of the Times - September 2013 - (Page 116)
“Too many people are failing the tests, and the
construction unions are pressuring Congress for relief.”
By Wade Swormstedt
Reactions to the delay for training
On May 22, the Occupational Safety and postpone
Administration (OSHA) announced it would
the effective date of the crane-operator certification
requirements for three years, until November 10, 2017.
Companies that already had invested time and money
into certifying their operators groaned. Companies that
hadn’t yet complied cheered.
Safety, of course, is good, both for operators and the
general public. Presumably, those sign companies that
received the training will greatly benefit, as will their
individual crane operators.
Bill Dundas, the director of technical and regulatory
affairs for the Intl. Sign Assn. (ISA), views the regulations
as positive, in the bigger picture, and cautions that complacency shouldn’t replace compliance: “This gives sign
companies more time to prepare for implementation
of the requirement, but it doesn’t mean that OSHA is
reconsidering its mandate for operator certification.
Some sign companies might obtain certification for
only a few employees who currently operate cranes,
assuming they can shuttle certified operators among
various projects. But for larger companies, or those
typically involved in multiple installation projects at
any given time, this approach probably isn’t practical.
“Although small businesses rarely welcome new federal
regulations, crane-operator certification does carry some
important and tangible benefits in terms of improving
safety and reducing potential liability. Over time, these
benefits typically outweigh the costs of certifying operators, but OSHA’s recent decision definitely helps sign
companies by enabling them to amortize certification
costs over a much longer period than originally specified.”
The National Commission for the Certification of
Crane Operators (NCCCO) is an independent, not-forprofit organization incorporated in January 1995 to
establish and administer a nationwide program for the
certification of crane operators. NCCCO has administered
more than 700,000 written and practical examinations
to more than 135,000 operators in all 50 states.
A week after the OSHA announcement, NCCCO
rejoiced, because it believes OSHA needed to “re-examine
the issue of certifying by capacity,” according to Jim
Maddux, NCCCO’s director of the directorate for construction. However, NCCCO urged OSHA to make these
changes quickly. As noted, the regulations are primarily
aimed at the construction industry, and the sign industry,
as so often occurs, gets swept into the mix.
In a May 29 press release, NCCCO stated, “An extension
of the deadline is worthless without immediate and
substantive action to solicit industry comments that will
result in a resolution accurately reflecting the intent of
116 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / SEPTEMBER 2013 / www.signweb.com
the industry group – Cranes and Derricks Negotiated
Rulemaking Committee (C-DAC) – that OSHA itself
assembled to develop this rule. Members of the original
committee have repeatedly said it was not their intent
to require operators to be certified by capacity in the
way that OSHA has since viewed it.” Contacted in
August, NCCCO said its view hasn’t changed.
Bill Waylett has worked with ISA since 2004 on cranesafety training. His company (Lou Wyble is his co-partner),
BL Consulting (Stuart, FL), currently offers the required
training to receive certification to OSHA standards.
Waylett views the postponement as extremely simple.
Too many people are failing the tests, and the construction
unions are pressuring Congress for relief. Closer to
home, most sign-company trainees are failing as well.
On the practical portion of the testing, which involves
four tasks, most operators fail the fourth component,
which requires moving a heavy load through a zig-zag
course without having the load hit bordering cones or
“The problem is, most operators use tag lines to
control their loads, and have not learned to control the
load with crane controls,” Waylett explained. “On the
test, you can’t use tag lines. Also, we’ve asked in training
sessions about use of the crane charts. Few sign-industry
operators use them, even though every crane manufacturer provides them. We’ve asked people how they
know if a load is safe to lift. Some say, ‘Well, if the
crane starts to tilt, we put the load back down’.”
Unfortunately, the written portion requires use of crane
charts to pass, and some operators struggle because of
their education: limited writing/comprehension skills,
and few study or test-taking skills. These issues hamper
the construction industry as well.
“We had to add a component on how to study and
take tests. These guys haven’t taken tests in 20 or 30
years. They’re often in unfamiliar territory,” Waylett adds.
“I even had the owner of a sign company ask me if I could
guarantee that his people would pass. Well, if they listen
and pay attention, probably. We do have a 90% pass rate.”
As for those operators who have already been
certified, Waylett says there’s no chance that their
certification will be extended beyond the normal five
years, because of the delay in mandatory certification.
However, he adds that the recertification process is
significantly less rigorous than the original certification
testing. For example, there’s no “practical” testing, and
the written portion has fewer questions. ■
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - September 2013
Signs of the Times - September 2013
Who Uses the Phone Book?
The Moving Message
Technology Review - DGS 3D POP store system
Technology Review - KIP C7800 poster printer
When the Cheering Starts
Enter the ST Intl. Sign Contest!
Starting at the Bottom
LED Lamps for Box/Cabinet Signs
The Aria’s 260-ft. Pylon Sign
Signs of the Times - September 2013