NCCCO Unveils Digger Derrick Practical Exam

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) unveiled recently at the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) a prototype of the practical exam that will form a central element in its certification program for operators of digger derricks. 

The new program was developed at the request of the manufacturers such as Terex and Altec in part as other NCCCO certified crane operator programs have gained momentum and acceptance, the need became apparent for a distinct program addressing digger derrick’s unique applications.

Operator certification improves safety by saving lives through reduced accidents.  Ongoing studies in locations where operator training and certification are required show a significant decrease in the accident and death rate among certified operators.

Dedicated to promoting safer working practices for those who work with and around cranes and related equipment, NCCCO’s Lift Safety Zone (LSZ) took center stage at the recent ICUEE.

The LSZ showcased all of NCCCO’s certification programs—for mobile, tower, overhead, and articulating crane operators, signalpersons, and riggers—but also offered written and recertification exam administrations for those seeking to become CCO certified or renew their certifications.

Thanks to equipment generously donated by Terex Utilities, Cargotec USA Inc.’s Hiab, and Palfinger as well as products donated by I&I Sling, Bishop Lifting and the Crosby Group, the main focus are demonstrations of CCO’s new derrick operator practical exam as well as articulating crane operator certification and rigger certification programs.

“This is the first time that the industry at large has had an opportunity to see for itself elements of the skills test that are being developed by the NCCCO Digger Derrick Task Force,” said NCCCO Program Manager, Joel Oliva.  “Performance tests” are key components in most of NCCCO certification programs.  They are also the most challenging to develop, Oliva noted.

“Identifying knowledge that an operator needs to know and then writing items to test that knowledge in a multiple choice written format is a relatively straightforward task,” said Oliva.  “Constructing a practical exam that accurately captures skills that an operator uses on the job, and then establishing a standardized and fair process to score it, is about as challenging as test development gets.”


NCCCO certification is a nationally recognized means of ensuring equipment operators are qualified to 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 NCCCO certification.  Federal OSHA’s new rule covering Cranes and Derricks in Construction (29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC) now also requires operators to be certified to operate digger derricks used in certain construction applications.


The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) is a non-profit organization formed in January 1995 to develop effective performance standards for safe crane operation to assist all segments of construction and general industry.  For more information on NCCCO, visit their website:

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