NCCCO Introduces CCO Lift Director Certification Program

NCOOThe National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) today made available a national CCO certification program for Lift Directors.

Developed over the past year-and-a-half by an 18-member Lift Director Task Force made up of industry veterans and subject-matter experts, as well as psychometricians from International Assessment Institute (IAI), this new multidisciplinary certification has been created in response to requests from industry stakeholders, including crane users, manufacturers, labor, and insurance companies.

“Lift directors bring to the lift team a wide range of career experiences and have oversight of all lifting personnel,” said NCCCO Commissioner and Chairman of the Lift Director Task Force, William “Hank” Dutton, Technical Services Senior Specialist with Construction Risk Control at Travelers Insurance, “so they play a critical role in safe lifting operations. Development of this new Lift Director certification is a logical progression of NCCCO’s efforts to ‘close the loop’ on crane and lifting safety.”

The new program is fully compliant with the new OSHA crane rule, Subpart CC, as well as the ANSI (ASME) standard that governs crane operations. ASME B30.5 defines a lift director as the person who “directly oversees the work being performed by a crane and the associated rigging crew.” As a result, lift directors must have a thorough understanding of the technical aspects and personnel roles involved with lifting operations. This can range from ensuring ground conditions are adequate, to managing communications among lift team members, to orchestrating complex, multi-crane lifts.

Lift directors are also responsible for stopping crane operations if alerted to an unsafe condition and restricting unauthorized access to the crane’s work area. Other duties include prohibiting crane operations near power lines unless OSHA and ASME guidelines have been met, informing the operator of the weight of loads, and ensuring that the load is properly rigged.

“This new certification is designed to be a powerful third-party assessment tool for an employer in determining that the person that he has designated to direct lifting operations has been evaluated as to their knowledge and ability to perform these tasks competently,” noted Joel Oliva, NCCCO Program Manager for Program Development and Administration.

The CCO Lift Director certification program provides separate designations for mobile crane and tower crane operations. The exams consist of a common written core examination and different written specialty examinations for each of the two designations. While there is no formal practical exam, real-life lift plans are used on the written exams to test a lift director’s ability to read, review, understand, and modify plans as changes occur, similar to what they must do in the real world.

Each candidate must also successfully pass the respective crane operator written exam(s) and the CCO Rigger Level II written exam; operators and Level II riggers who are currently certified need only maintain their certification status in good standing. As with other CCO programs, the initial certification period is for five years, after which lift directors must recertify.

“The new CCO Lift Director certification has been created to be valid, reliable, and legally defensible,” noted NCCCO Commission Chairman, Ellis Vliet. Once enough data has been collected, NCCCO will seek ANSI/ISO accreditation for the new program, such as it has achieved for its other certifications, he added.

“Accreditation from a national personnel certification accreditation body such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is an indicator of a level of quality that is simply not available from every testing program that aspires to ‘certify’ individuals.” he said. As with existing NCCCO programs, Vliet added, the new lift director certification will meet all prevailing ANSI and OSHA standards.

“We expect that this new lift director certification will be popular with owners and employers who understand the safety and cost benefits of a professionally developed assessment process and who recognize its place within a comprehensive risk management process, while also meeting their obligations under state and federal requirements,” said NCCCO Executive Director, Graham Brent.

“Employers and candidates have a right to expect that the exams that they or their employees are taking are fair and relevant, and that they have been developed to the very highest professional standards of test construction and administration,” Brent added. “Our certification models have been very successful in the eyes of the industry, and NCCCO has applied those principles when building the Lift Director certification program.”

For more information about the new Lift Director certification program—including a candidate handbook, exam application, and reference materials—visit the Lift Director area of the NCCCO website at

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