Knuckle Boom Truck Training
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Knuckle Boom Truck Frequently Asked Questions
How often do I need knuckle boom crane training?
OSHA requires knuckle boom truck training for knuckle boom truck truck operators–on that there is no question. Where confusion exists is how often operators need knuckle 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 knuckle 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 knuckle boom truck training. Ultimately, it is up to the employer to determine how frequently their knuckle 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 knuckle 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 knuckle boom truck evaluation is the maximum time that should be allowed to pass before an operator receives knuckle boom truck recertification. According to OSHA, there are several instances that will require additional knuckle boom truck training and observation before the three year period is up:
- Knuckle boom truck operator is observed in an accident or a near miss
- Knuckle boom truck operator received a poor evaluation or is observed driving in a dangerous manner
- The knuckle boom truck operator is assigned to drive a different type of knuckle boom truck or the workplace has changed significantly enough to require additional knuckle boom truck training (such as being transferred from operating a knuckle boom truck used to hoist signs to a knuckle boom truck used for trimming trees).
I’ve received knuckle boom crane training. Can I operate a stiff 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 boom crane vs. articulated boom crane vs. RT Crane vs. AT Crane vs. Lattice boom crane, etc. For example, say you have always operated a knuckle boom crane to lift drywall but have suddenly been asked to operate a stiff boom crane to hoist steel beams into place. In this case, you would need additional mobile crane training specific to that type of boom crane.
If you have received knuckle boom crane training on a construction site and have always operated a FASAI knuckle boom crane, but then are asked to operate a Palfinger knuckle boom crane, 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 knuckle boom crane control does.
I’ve operated knuckle boom cranes 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 knuckle boom crane training, a knuckle boom crane written exam, and a practical knuckle boom crane evaluation. There is no way around it. This goes for other types of mobile cranes too. The extent of the classroom knuckle boom crane 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 knuckle boom crane 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 knuckle boom crane training at a different job. Do I need to be trained again by my new employer? Is my knuckle boom crane training portable?
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 knuckle boom crane 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 knuckle boom crane 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 2107, 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 and operator had a mobile crane certification card will not suffice, nor will it undo the accident.
What about NCCCO? Does OSHA require my knuckle boom crane operators to receive articulating crane operator certification?
It depends. As alluded to above, the adoption of this law requiring mobile crane certification through an authorized organization has been postponed at least until 2017. It is still wise to take these additional mobile crane exams though, if you need to and can afford it. But you may not need to take it. OSHA 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC (the new proposed law) only applies to cranes used in construction. If you are not using the knuckle boom truck for construction, you do not have to certify your operator through NCCCO. But as the employer, you still need to “certify” them yourself by training them. Also, generally speaking, if the articulating boom truck has an automatic overload device and you are just using it to deliver goods to the ground (in no particular order for hoisting) or if you are simply delivering packaged goods or sheet goods (like plywood or drywall), then knuckle boom truck operators do not need the additional knuckleboom certification. It can be more complicated than that, though, so you should consult the material handling exclusion for knuckle boom cranes: 1926.1400(c)(17).
Can you explain knuckle boom crane 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 part of a safety training companies materials (like our knuckle boom crane training kits on CD or our knuckle boom crane 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 knuckle boom crane 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 knuckle boom crane training or the knuckle boom crane training materials needed to help them knuckle boom crane certify their employees.
As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of confusion surrounding OSHA’s proposal to enact a law requiring knuckle boom crane operators to pass a knuckle boom crane written exam and a knuckle boom crane practical exam to be knuckle boom crane certified. This proposal is not in effect. It has been delayed at least until November 2017. But even if the law passes, knuckle boom crane operators will still need to receive traditional operator safety training outside of the additional exams.
Do I need to receive rigger signalperson training too?
Yes. Like mobile crane certification, there is a lot of confusion about rigger signaler certification. Bottom line, if you are going to handling rigging and relaying mobile crane hand signals you need to receive rigger training and signaler training before operating a mobile crane. 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 knuckle boom crane PowerPoint presentation in our knuckle boom crane training kit on CD and our online knuckle boom crane 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.
Having said all that, many knuckle boom trucks simply use fork attachments to lift drywall or other materials. This is why some refer to articulated boom trucks as drywall cranes. If this is the case for you, and you will never use rigging, then you will not need additional rigger training.
How do I take the knuckle boom crane practical evaluation if I take knuckle boom crane training online?
The online knuckle boom crane 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 knuckle boom crane 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 knuckle boom crane 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 knuckle boom crane. 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.
What is a knuckle boom crane?
A knuckle boom crane is a truck mounted crane with an articulating arm that knuckles or bends inward. Most typically have sections that telescope out at the end too. In many areas throughout the world they are referred to as articulated boom trucks and not considered cranes. A few come equipped with a winch and hoist line, but most often they are seen on construction sites lifting drywall or plywood with fork attachments. They are also called knuckle boom cranes, articulated boom cranes, articulated boom cranes, knuckle boom lifts, knuckle boom cranes, knuckle boom loaders, drywall cranes, and knuckle booms, crane mounted boom crane, knuckle boom crane, among other names.