Not everyone can handle the dizzying heights a crane operator often has to deal with, nor the living-on-the-edge feat of hauling thousands of pounds of building material or goods up into the sky. If you've no fear of heights and can work well under pressure, that crane operator job may just be up your alley. You will need certification, which is done by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, or NCCCO. Below is some information on the agency and two examples of crane certification they cover.
About the NCCCO
The NCCCO is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve the safety factor for those who work with and around cranes. The certification process is unbiased, and operates without the influence of any outside firms. Testing, both written and hands-on, is available for a number of crane types. Certification candidates must have crane experience, either through prior employment or from a crane operator school. The NCCCO does provide a list of schools for candidates that do need hands-on training. Certification is also available to signal persons, lift directors and riggers. Riggers plan the moving of the loads and are the ones that call in a crane and operator when needed.
Two Types of Cranes on the NCCCO Operator Certification List
Each type of crane requires its own operator certification. All require passing of the core certification exam plus an exam for the particular type of crane, a hands-on practical exam, passing of the medical requirements and compliance with the drug abuse policies of the NCCCO. Two of the most often seen cranes that require operator certification are listed.
A mobile crane moves from job to job on its own wheels. They drive similar to a big-rig, with all the crane parts safely stowed on the back. Once at the job site, the mobile crane is stabilized by oversized extensions that create a wider base. The crane's boom, the long extension that picks items up, may then be extended to the required height and swung into position as needed.
Tower cranes are the ones you see working alongside high rise buildings. The pieces are delivered to the building site by tractor-trailer rigs and then the crane is assembled, typically using a mobile crane to assist. The bottom, or base, is bolted into a concrete slab. This supports the tower, the gears that allow the crane to pivot, the operator platform and the crane's crosspiece, called the jib. It is the jib that actually carries and moves the weight using a trolley system on its underside. Counterweights help keep the crane steady.
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