Those who operate cranes to lift building materials and other objects are considered to be the riggers. The industry of rigging itself is overseen and regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the United States. This article covers what general industry regulations there are.
OSHA rigging regulations cover the work itself as well as the people and equipment being used to do the work. These regulations were started by the Administration in 1926 and continue to evolve.
Employers hold the responsibility to determine if an employee is qualified to be a rigger. This qualification is obtained by possessing either a certificate or an accreditation with an organization authorized to issue same. It is not necessary for a rigger to hold certification to do their work. They simply need to be able to prove that they have the knowledge and training to do the work and solve any problems related to it.
Riggers do not have to be tested or assessed to perform their work. They must, however, be able to load rigs for the particular job. That means, according to OSHA, that the individual is only qualified to load rigs, for example, for building materials but cannot load rigs for bulk materials at sea.
Employers hold the responsibility to ensure that a rigger can handle the job that is assigned to them. A good rigger who can handle unstable loads is not authorized, then, to handle the building materials or stable loads the employer may demand.
There are some instances where OSHA requires employers to be qualified. This is often the case when there need to be other workers in an area underneath a load. This area is also called the fall zone.
Qualified riggers are assigned the task of guiding that load as well as hooking and connecting it to the structure while on the rigging equipment. As mentioned above, being qualified in this area requires no special certification. It only requires that the person understands how to handle this specific job with the specific loads involved.
Even though certification is not required, it is available. The programs that allow a person to become certified have to meet OSHA standards. Employers often send their employees to these certification courses to be sure that they understand how to meet and comply with all OSHA standards. This is a good practice to put into place for the workforce in general.
Certification classes can last a few weeks. They cover how to do slings, signaling, loading, knots and of course, all safety measures.
Certification is obtained by taking written and hands-on tests. These programs are ideal for riggers of all levels. That means the experienced operator or the newcomer can take the same course and still come away with the proper certification.
Besides being qualified as a rigger, OSHA sets qualifications for signalpersons, as well. The qualified rigger is a signalperson who can handle the safe use of things like rigging hardware, wire ropes, lever hoists and can handle doing the inspection of these things prior to starting any job. The signalperson also knows the proper hand signals and voice signals.
Certifications can be obtained for signalpersons just as they can be for riggers. Courses may also include learning the OSHA standards, learning proper knots, rigging procedures and learning the use of taglines. They also have to learn how to safely use slings, wire ropes, and rigging hardware. This requires that they have the ability to physically manage all of these tasks in a safe and compliant manner.
Many courses require that an individual have two years of rigging experience before they can sign up to take the course. Some courses will allow a student to take the course if they have the ability to sign up as a trainee. An employer can back the student up on this in writing.
As it is with riggers, signalpersons do not need to be certified to do their job. They must be qualified to do the work. Being certified as a signalperson also does not necessarily mean the person is qualified. This is shown by demonstrating knowledge of the work on the job in accordance with OSHA regulations.