Boom Truck Training
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Boom Truck Training Frequently Asked Questions
How often do I need boom truck training?
OSHA requires boom truck training for boom truck operators–on that there is no question. Where confusion exists is how often operators need boom truck refresher training or recertification. Outside of the initial safety training class, it is common to see companies set recertification at every three years. We are one of them. And here’s why:
As far as this 3-year boom truck training certification goes, OSHA regulations are very specific when it comes to forklifts and a couple other pieces of equipment. However, on everything else they are not so clear. They just state the employer must regularly provide safety training for their aerial lift operators. Following industry best practices, we’ve adopted this 3-year term in order to help employers comply with the general standard of regularly providing and proving boom truck training. Ultimately, it is up to the employer to determine how frequently their boom truck operators need to be trained. Many of our customers require it more often, annually even. Others may stretch it out a bit. In working with OSHA, though, it is our experience that they like to see employers adopt the strictest standard when the regulations are not clear. For instance, we know of companies that didn’t train every three years and were reprimanded by OSHA for not offering additional training more often. It is not uncommon for OSHA to refer to the forklift standard as the pattern by which training should be carried out for other pieces of equipment. On a side note, OSHA is slowly but surely making training requirements specific for other pieces of equipment so there are no gray areas. Mobile cranes and aerial lifts, for instance, are all undergoing potential changes to the regulations that will reference training specifically.
So, with that in mind, we say boom truck operators must be re-evaluated every three years to determine if they are still competent enough to operate. We also state that this every-three-year boom truck evaluation is the maximum time that should be allowed to pass before an operator receives boom truck recertification. According to OSHA, there are several instances that will require additional boom truck training and observation before the three year period is up:
- Boom truck operator is observed in an accident or a near miss
- Boom truck operator received a poor evaluation or is observed driving in a dangerous manner
- The boom truck operator is assigned to drive a different type of boom truck or the workplace has changed significantly enough to require additional boom truck training (such as being transferred from operating a boom truck used to hoist signs to a boom truck used for trimming trees).
I’ve received boom truck training. Can I operate a knuckle boom crane?
Not necessarily. OSHA requires mobile crane operators to receive mobile crane training for each type of mobile crane. On this term, “type,” there is much confusion. Generally speaking, by “type” OSHA means stiff boom truck vs. articulated boom truck vs. RT Crane vs. AT Crane vs. Lattice boom crane, etc. For example, say you have always operated a knuckle boom truck to lift drywall but have suddenly been asked to operate a boom truck to hoist steel beams into place. In this case, you would need additional mobile crane training specific to stiff boom truck cranes.
If you have received boom truck training on a construction site and have always operated a Terex boom truck, but then are asked to operate a Manitex boom truck, you should be just fine to operate under the same training certification received previously. Keep in mind though, controls can differ greatly from brand to brand, so in some cases you may need additional instruction or a quick refresher training to make sure you are clear on what each boom truck control does.
I’ve operated boom trucks for 30 years. Do I need to take a class, a written exam, and a practical exam still? Can I just take a written test?
No matter how long you’ve been on the job, OSHA requires boom truck training, a boom truck written exam, and a practical boom truck evaluation. There is no way around it. This goes for other types of mobile cranes too. The extent of the classroom boom truck training can be adapted by the instructor according to student needs. The written exam proves mental competency and understanding of the safety principles taught. And the practical evaluation proves the boom truck operator not only understands but is capable of operating the machine safely. In the opinion of many, the practical evaluation is of the greatest overall value, but all components are necessary.
I received boom truck training at a different job. Do I need to be trained again by my new employer? Is my boom truck training portable? And what about the NCCCO certification?
This is a common question, especially among laborers-for-hire who may sub out from job to job. Technically, it is your current employer who is responsible for saying whether or not you have been trained specifically for the type of mobile crane and job. If you bring a boom truck certificate or wallet card to your new employer, they do not have to accept it. It is their right to require you to take their own training class. This is because if there is an accident, they will likely be responsible and need to prove to OSHA that they trained you on boom truck operations.
Having said that, OSHA is considering enacting a law that would require every mobile crane operator to pass a set of additional mobile crane exams before being considered mobile crane certified. For now, this requirement has been postponed until November at 2017, and maybe longer. There are some organizations (NCCER, NCCCO, CIC) that still offer these written and practical exams and, yes, if you pass them, they are portable, recognized across the country. There are also some states that require it now. However, they simply prove you have passed the exam. It is still the responsibility of the employer to see you receive training. Many employers may simply accept your card, but if an accident were to occur they would still need to prove training. Just telling OSHA that an operator had a mobile crane certification card will not suffice, nor will it undo the accident.
Can you explain boom truck certification? Who can train, evaluate, and certify operators?
This, above all, causes a lot of confusion. Bottom line, OSHA states that employers are responsible to train their employees. Generally speaking, there are three ways they can do this:
- Train employees in-house with their own program
- Hire a 3rd party to train the employees (on-site or off-site)
- Use another company’s materials or online classes to train employees
In terms of using a 3rd party for safety training materials (like our boom truck training kits on CD or our boom truck online training class) OSHA does not recognize one company over another. They simply state that ‘training needs to occur’ and ‘here are the things a mobile crane operator should be trained on.’
When we do live training or offer boom truck training online, people often assume we are the ones certifying the trainees. This is not true for any training company. We are simply assisting the employer by providing live boom truck training or the boom truck training materials needed to help them boom truck certify their employees.
As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of confusion surrounding OSHA’s proposal to enact a law requiring boom truck operators to pass a boom truck written exam and a boom truck practical exam to be boom truck certified. This proposal is not in effect. It has been delayed at least until November 2017. But even if the law passes, boom truck operators will still need to receive traditional operator safety training outside of the additional exams.
Do I need to receive rigger signal person training too?
Yes. Like mobile crane certification, there is a lot of confusion about rigger signaler certification. Bottom line, you need to receive rigger training and signaler training before handling rigging in any manner. There are organizations that offer federal certification which is portable, meaning if you leave one job for another your rigging card will be accepted. However, these more expensive classes are not required. The responsibility to see everyone receives rigger signalperson training falls on the shoulders of the employer. They can train their employees in one of three ways: by themselves in-house, using a 3rd party such as ourselves, or by using another’s rigger training materials such as ours.
The boom truck PowerPoint presentation in our boom truck training kit on CD and our online boom truck training classes cover rigging, but we also have made our specific rigger signalman training materials available on CD. They come with both a basic rigger class and an intermediate/advanced rigger class. They also have a signaler class.
How do I take the boom truck practical evaluation if I take online boom truck training?
The online boom truck training class covers OSHA’s requirements for the classroom portion. Many employers prefer online training because they know exactly what mobile crane training the operator will receive. In live classes, the training sometimes varies. A written exam is included at the end of our online training courses. After the boom truck class and exam are finished, you and your safety managers will have immediate access to a practical evaluation checklist. This can be printed off and used by your supervisor to help him or her evaluate you on the mobile crane. When done, they can sign it and file it with your exam. This will satisfy OSHA’s requirements for boom truck certification.
My trainee scored 80% on the exam. Did he pass or fail?
Contrary to popular belief, OSHA does not dictate what a passing score entails. That is ultimately up to the employer whose responsibility it is to certify, or authorize, their employee to operate a boom truck. If you want to pass him at 80%, fine. But what if a question or two among the 20% missed could lead to an accident or death? Is it worth it? Our recommendation is that you always go over any missed questions with your trainees—even if they just missed one. Once they understand the principle missed, have them write their initials by the correct answer. That way, you are protecting them and those around them from potential accidents in the future.