Concrete Pump Operators Have New Certification Program

Jeanne A. Curley

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (CCO) has launched a new certification program for operators of concrete pumps.

CCO developed this certification in response to numerous requests from industry so that users can garner the same increased safety benefits that users of other load handling equipment have seen through certification.

A task force of 25 subject matter experts developed the program’s single written exam over the past 20 months. The task force includes both experienced CCO contributors and new experts with more specialized knowledge, including those from concrete pump manufacturers, users, unions, rental firms, training companies, construction contractors, safety consultants, insurance, and regulatory authorities.

This new CCO Concrete Pump Operator program has been built according to the same strict psychometric standards that are a hallmark of all CCO’s certification programs, resulting in a certification process that is fair, valid, reliable, and legally defensible. As with other CCO certification programs, the task force first performed a job task analysis to identify the knowledge necessary for safe operations, then it created an exam blueprint that outlines the exam content, and finally subject matter experts wrote the actual exam questions. The result is a written examination that assesses operators based on U.S. standards and uses real-world scenarios and applications of the standards and regulations, not just memorization of the rules and regulations.

This program tests operators on operation concepts and scenarios as well as industry standards that operators need to know, including ASME B30.27: Material Placement Systems Safety Standard for Cableways, Cranes, Derricks, Hoists, Hooks, Jacks, and Slings. The six content domains covered by the test are: (1) Conducting pre-trip planning, (2) Driving the truck, (3) Setting up pump, (4) Conducting placement operations, (5) Preparing pump for travel, and (6) End-of-day operations.

CCO certification is a nationally recognized means of ensuring concrete pump operators can do the jobs they are assigned; that is why so many employers, federal agencies, states, labor unions, industry organizations, and insurance firms have come to recognize or require CCO certification. Certification is awarded as the result of a third-party assessment process that indicates mastery of the required competencies and has ongoing requirements holders must continue to meet to maintain certification, including recertification. Many stakeholders certify their operators to achieve the highest standards of concrete pump safety even before certification is required by OSHA.

While not currently required by law, many large contractors have been asking for this new certification and they will likely be among the first ones to require their pump operators be CCO-certified. As awareness of the new program proliferates across the industry, it is expected that most job sites will require a certified operator for not only safety reasons, but also for efficiency and professionalism.

The new CCO Concrete Pump Operator certification program consists of a written examination only. The task force is considering adding a practical exam in the future, but it determined that most certification benefits can be realized with a written exam only. The exam is available via computer-based testing (CBT) at approximately 400 PSI test centers across the country. At $180 for the single exam, this new certification is the most affordable concrete pump operator certification available. CCO is also the only accredited certification body to offer a concrete pump operator certification.

Specialty examinations for big boom rigs, loop conveyors, and high-rise rigs are also being considered. Although a hands-on practical exam is not required, real-life situations are used in the written exam to test operators’ knowledge of the equipment and safety considerations. If it is determined that a practical exam should be required for certification, there would be a phase-in period. Current certificants would likely take the practical exam at the time of recertification to meet all requirements. This was how the CCO Mobile Crane Operator program implemented its first practical exams in 1998.

Source: CCO

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