Riggers Have a Real Impact

Much attention in the world of heavy lifting is given to crane operators. Their highly visible, high-stakes role means crane operator training is uncontroversial and widely available.

However, studies suggest that close to 40% of the various activities associated with conducting a lift are the responsibility of the riggers and lift directors.

With such a pivotal role in the execution of a pick, riggers must be trained.

Identifying the right rigger training program is critical.

The options are varied, and it can be an arduous task for a supervisor or EHS manager to choose the right training.

This is even more true with the recent changes to ASME B30.5 which bring into sharp focus the difference between Rigger Certification and Rigger Qualifications.

This article aims to help you make a more informed decision as you look to choose the right training for your riggers.

Why is Rigger Training Important?

According to Dr. Wiethorn’s extensive research, 16.8% of crane accidents in construction are the fault of personnel responsible for rigging the lift.

In addition, while similar data does not exist within the world of overhead cranes, anecdotal evidence alone suggests an ongoing issue with dropped or improperly rigged loads.

The consequences can be disastrous.

Financially, dropped and damaged loads can eliminate profit margins. Time spent recovering from rigging-related incidents could seriously affect deliverability, and the human cost can range from broken bones to lost limbs and even death.

Which Rigger Training is Right For My Team?

The type of training you choose ultimately depends on your end-goal.

For some, a nationally recognized certification is the destination, and the training they receive needs to focus on exam preparation. For others, real-world accident prevention is more important, and robust vocational training is preferred.

With the demise of CIC’s accreditation, there are really only two certification routes.

Conversely, the industry is awash with smaller outfits offering rigger training, though again, only a few heavyweights provide the most credible, customized training for rigging operations.

Option 1 – CCO – Advantages, Disadvantages & Characteristics

National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (CCO) is considered the gold-standard for crane, lifting and rigging certification.

As an ANAB-accredited certifying agency, they have offered certification in rigging since 1995. Currently their certifications include Rigger Level 1, Rigger Level 2 and Lift Director.

Although they do not offer training, many companies across the United States offer preparatory training for the written and practical examinations that lead to NCCCO certification.

CCO Logo

Advantages of Choosing CCO

National Certification – Since its inception over two decades ago, the CCO has become the most recognized certifying agency in the crane and rigging world. CCO certifications are typically required for winning contracts and are accepted across multiple industries as the most recognizable mark of area expertise.

Broad Application – Riggers certified by the CCO have the knowledge and expertise to apply across a wide range of industries. Having passed their CCO examinations, these riggers can comfortably work in many different scenarios.

No Conflict of Interest – As preparatory training is given by a 3rd-party and the work of CCO is limited to certification only, the CCO score their examinations without bias. As a result, their certifications are trustworthy.

Disadvantages of Choosing CCO

Test-Oriented – Any time certification requires an examination, some will criticize the fact that the training “teaches to the test”. It is argued that anything considered unnecessary to guaranteeing a passing score is left out. This could mean that valuable material and real-world applications are only briefly touched upon.

Limited Locations – Candidates are required to take written and practical examinations to become CCO-certified. These exams are rigorously monitored and must adhere to specific guidelines that mean they may only be administered in specific places, with specific equipment, by accredited practical examiners. There are consequently many restrictions on where and when training and certification examinations can be taken.

Option 2 – NCCER – Advantages, Disadvantages & Characteristics

The National Center for Construction Education and Research was established as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) education foundation in 1996. They offer training and 70+ assessments across a multiplicity of trades all over the US.


Advantages of Choosing NCCER

Recertification Cycle – If the goal is to train as few times as possible and get the maximum length certification for your money, then the NCCER’s recertification requirement of every 5 years is a good way to go.

Trainers Provide the Examination – Since training providers who offer NCCER programs also administer the exams, you can be relatively confident the program will be designed for a passing score

3 Tiers – NCCER offers three levels of rigger certification – Basic, Intermediate and Advanced – meaning there is a level for everyone.

Disadvantages of Choosing NCCER

Lack of Accreditation – The NCCER are not accredited by ANAB (ANSI) to offer certification to riggers.

Relevancy – The prescribed curriculum for NCCER’s programs was last updated in 2018

Non-specific – The NCCER curricula were never designed to be specific to cranes and rigging. With courses ranging from boilermaking to carpentry, cabinetmaking to pipefitting, NCCER’s focus is necessarily broad, perhaps lacking the depth of SMEs found in alternatives.

Option 3 – Independent Training Provider – Advantages, Disadvantages & Characteristics

Many vendors exist within the crane and rigging space, but few offer their own in-house, tailored rigger training. Similarly, quality differs dramatically across providers.

An important mark to look for is whether written and practical exams are offered that will allow you, as the employer, to qualify your riggers.

Independent vendors provide training and examinations that enable the employer to deem their riggers as ‘qualified’. Since these organizations typically also train towards CCO certifications, their alternative training programs will differentiate themselves by focus, level and flexible customization.

In addition to preparing candidates for CCO examinations, CICB offers a 3-tiered approach to rigger training.

Advantages of Choosing an Independent Training Provider

Customizable – Central to the appeal of a training provider is the ability to work with them to create training tailored to your specific needs. A quality training provider will have a broad base of instructors with decades of combined knowledge that can be put to use in creating the perfect program for your riggers.

Comprehensive – Without the limitations of a specific certification to train to, instruction can concentrate on real-world application. Provided the vendor has qualified instructors, the training should be thorough, in-depth, and highly relevant.

Current – Certification programs take a great deal of time to create, particularly when the consensus of many organizations is required. Conversely, independent training providers should be in a position to make quick, incremental changes to their programs. Where these vendors author their training in-house, the programs can constantly evolve to meet existing needs.

Disadvantages of Choosing an Independent Training Provider

Qualification not Certification – Serious training providers will offer written and practical exams and a record of training that enables the employer to designate the trainee as ‘qualified’. However, this is not the same as a certification. Nevertheless, there are no OSHA or ANSI requirements for rigger certifications.

No external oversight – Training from independent providers is not subject to an accreditation process. Consequently, it is critical that the vendor chosen can demonstrate a high level of expertise and experience, as well as a track-record of working with satisfied customers.

Train the trainer

Option 4 – Internal Training – Advantages, Disadvantages & Characteristics

Larger companies may well have an internal training department that extends to cranes and rigging. Rather than engage the services of a training vendor for all team members, a company may elect to train their trainers, through a train the trainer program. Depending on the time available and the particular use case, these programs may include practical and theoretical training in equipment operation, coaching in instructional delivery, and assistance developing custom curricula.

Advantages of Choosing Internal Training

Custom-made– As insiders, the trainers should know the unique variables applicable to the type and use of the equipment as well as company needs. The training programs can be developed with this in mind.

Easily scheduled – Rather than attempt to align team member shifts and company resource allocation with training vendor availability, internal training can be more easily scheduled.

Repeatable – Once developed, internal training can be repeated on as regular basis as desired at minimal cost.

Disadvantages of Choosing Internal Training

Broad rather than specialized – Experience shows that internal trainers are often quality practitioners shoe-horned into training roles, or trainers across multiple-disciplines with limited capacity to be an expert in all.

Constant Regulatory Changes – The benefit of a dedicated crane and rigging training company is that their subject-matter experts are laser-focused on the industry. With changes happening frequently, it can take that single-mindedness to ensure training programs are up to date.

Turnover – In the unfortunate event that your trained trainers make an internal transfer or take a job elsewhere, the training program would have to be put on hold until new trainers could be sourced and trained.

What to consider before you choose your Rigger Training

The cost of rigger training is not insignificant and having to re-train is a drain on time, resources and confidence. Taking the time up front to find the right rigger training is invaluable. To help you finalize your decision, consider the following:

  • What are the bid/contractor requirements?
  • To what level have your riggers already been trained?
  • How much time is available to remove your riggers from the job site?
  • What budget are you working with?
  • Which industry will your riggers be working in?
  • What are your preferences for refresher classes?
  • How important is name recognition?

It’s rarely comfortable making a decision on your own, so do consider reaching out to peers in the industry.

Similarly, consulting with industry leaders such as CICB is a good step.

Since it offers CCO preparatory training, customized, in-house training for qualification, and train-the-trainer programs, CICB is well-positioned to provide unbiased recommendations.

CICB has a Commissioner on the CCO written exam committee and two decades of experience providing preparatory training for their certification examinations.

With more than 50 years’ experience in the industry, CICB’s customizable, multi-tiered rigging programs are ideal for those who need specific or multi-use case training. Their flagship Wind Service Advanced Rigging with Lift Planning is an industry first.

To learn more and to decide which training and certification is right for you, contact us today for a free consultation with one of our expert team members.

Contact CICB Today