Depending on who you talk to the opinions on Qualified vs Certified vary. Our safety culture has been led to believe that certified is better or greater than qualified. We don’t agree with this in all instances. It is true that OSHA does mandate some certifications and qualifications in the crane industry. Most often we’re asked if we certify riggers. We do. But… we also perform qualification classes. If done correctly a qualification training program is far more effective than a certified one.
Here is what this means:
OSHA says all employees need to be qualified to perform a specific task. In the construction crane world, they go a little further.
Under 1926.1401 (definitions) Qualified person means a person who, by the possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, successfully demonstrated the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.
So, in the simplest language, qualified means an individual has been trained and legitimately knows what he or she is doing for the job or the task.
Also Under 1926.1401 (definitions), Qualified rigger is a rigger who meets the criteria for a qualified person.
So how does one become qualified? Proper training. Don’t just look in a book. A rigger needs to understand how to hook something up and pick it up. The same goes for a signal person. To actually understand crane dynamics you need to see and feel crane dynamics and signal an actual crane.
Certified is not so straight forward.
For an entity to be able to certify they must be nationally recognized.
Under 1926.1401 (definitions) Nationally recognized accrediting agency is an organization that, due to its independence and expertise, is widely recognized as competent to accredit testing organizations. Examples of such accrediting agencies include, but are not limited to, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and the American National Standards Institute.
For Certifications, we use the National Commission for the Certifications of Crane Operators (NCCCO). The NCCCO is the oldest crane and rigging certification entity in the US. They have mobile and overhead crane certifications as well as rigger and signal person certifications.
The real issue with a rigger or signal person certification is that it is not specialized. It is a great place for a rigger or signal person to start, but we think the qualification for a specific job or company is better. Qualification belongs to the company that provided it and is not portable, the certification belongs to the individual much like a driver’s license and is portable.