Standard of Excellence: The EICA and Crane Operators

By Tom O'Connor | Mar 15, 2018
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Recently I spoke with Neil Tolson, executive director of the Electrical Industry Certifications Association (EICA), about his organization and its recently accredited American National Standards Institute (ANSI) crane operator certifications. Here is our conversation.

What is the EICA, and why was it created?

EICA is a nonprofit organization founded in 2014 to promote responsible awareness through certification programs regarding safe and effective practices in the electrical industry. [Its goal is to] provide effective, valid and fair assessments that raise the standard of excellence for personnel engaged in the varied aspects of the electrical industry.

EICA’s initial objective is to establish a fair and independent evaluation of crane and digger-derrick operator knowledge and skills as they pertain to the safe operation of cranes and digger derricks as used in the electrical construction and utility industry. Even before incorporation was formally obtained, EICA began to develop [its] crane certification program.

While other entities were doing crane certifications based on both construction and railroad scenarios, nobody specifically addressed the electrical power line environment. If you are working in the electrical construction industry—­particularly in the power line construction segment of that industry—we believe we are the certification entity that will be held in the highest regard by your current and future employers.

If you are working in the electrical industry, and need a crane operators certification, talk to your employer or contact the JATC that covers your area. Our test procedures closely align with your work environment and offer you the best proof to your employer that you are ready to be a safe and productive crane and digger-derrick operator. EICA certification is valid for five years on all scopes.

The EICA recently had three crane operator certifications accredited by ANSI. They address digger derricks, rotating-control telescoping cranes and stationary control telescoping cranes. Tell us about the development process, and provide a little background on each.

The development process that the EICA went through took years of planning and beta testing before essentially completing a finished product. Subject matter experts from across the country assembled the various committees that were tasked with creating the practical exams and the policies and procedures.

Attaining ANSI accreditation is a huge milestone to the EICA program. The EICA submitted the final ANSI application with over 8,000 pages of supporting documents to show that the ISO/IEC 17024 standards are satisfied. The accreditation authenticates that the certifications offered through the EICA meet the utmost qualified standards of examination administration and development. The ANSI accreditation process allowed the EICA to focus on areas of improvement where auditors have exposed concerns with other certifying bodies.

The EICA believes ANSI represents the highest level of accreditation services within the industry. ANSI’s impartial authentication of the EICA’s policies and procedures meets the highest professional level of standards in examination development, verification and administration.

Are there any outstanding issues?

One area of concern is regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA has pushed back the certification requirement date two times now: from Nov. 10, 2014, (original implementation date) to Nov. 10, 2017, and now to Nov. 10, 2018. OSHA has talked about adding a capacity limit to crane certification as well as operation control type per crane certification. The EICA does not have a capacity limit but does issue certifications based on control type for cranes (stationary and rotating).

Do these efforts tie into OSHA’s recent work to update its delayed crane operator standard?

Starting Nov. 10, 2018, OSHA will require operators of cranes and digger derricks above 2,000-pound capacity, when used in construction, be certified by an accredited crane operator testing organization such as the EICA.

Are there any eligibility requirements for the certifications?

Yes, applicants must be at least 18 years of age [and have a] current commercial driver’s license or DOT medical card. The candidate has 14 months after they pass their first exam (practical or written) to pass the consequent practical or written exam. Operators shall be required to successfully meet the qualifications for the specific type of crane that they are operating. There is also a candidate handbook that provides additional criteria.

Where can our readers find more information regarding the EICA and the crane operator certifications?

Our website contains much of the information needed for our certifications ( For any other questions, please call 801.566.1205 or email

About The Author

O’CONNOR is safety and regulatory affairs manager for Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing firm. Reach him at


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