July 16, 2015, Augusta, Maine – While the Federal Government prepared to roll out new crane operator standards, contractors in Maine teamed up to develop new training opportunities in anticipation of the changes. “Our Workforce Development Director Don Partridge suggested the industry would need a classroom and practical training course to meet changes in regulations five years ago. That is the wonderful thing about trade associations and having members who value investing in safety and workforce development. Don has developed a terrific program,” said Matthew Marks CEO of Associated General Contractors of Maine.

The AGC Maine crane program begins with three days of classroom work designed to prepare students for a written exam administered by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). During the three days, students learn critical information about the different types of cranes, how to read load charts, and have the opportunity to run through a variety of hypothetical situations. When Maine weather breaks, students who passed the written exam can apply to take a practical test in the field. The demand for this training is evident in the fact that 35 new tests were administered for fifteen crane operators last week alone. “The goal is to make the industry more safe and more knowledgeable. The training and testing process is not easy, so the operators who dedicate the time and effort to pass the written and practical exams show a strong commitment to the industry and their careers,” said Partridge.

In 2002, OSHA announced it would update the 30-year old crane standard in response to industry pressure. “AGC Maine tries to anticipate where a gap in training exists or where our members have the resources and equipment to develop a great program. Cranes are a specialty trade and only a very limited number of firms have had comprehensive training programs in years past.  We worked with companies with existing training programs, insurance firms, AGC America, and a private firm with decades of experience to put together an exciting and successful training package to offer the industry,” said Partridge.

Since introducing the course in 2011, AGC Maine has prepared 201 operators for the exam and has facilitated 317 tests. The Association expects demand to grow as compliance dates are set for the new regulations and the Chapter will continue to strengthen the program by offering more services. “The program has already been expanded to include training supervisors who are not the crane operators themselves but are responsible for the entire job site. The goal of the program is to make sure they have a basic understanding of how an operator makes decisions on safety. It has been a true eye-opener for many of the attendees,” Don said.

Tim Ouellette, AGC Maine Board President and co-owner of CPM Constructors, knows how valuable it is for his company to have well-trained operators. “Part of AGC Maine’s core mission is to train skilled construction workers in all trades. The crane training program at AGC Maine provides a way for Maine companies to get their operators trained and certified here in Maine instead of sending their employees out-of-state. This has been one of AGC Maine’s most successful programs and ensures Maine construction projects have the most skilled and safest crane operators around,” Tim stated.

AGC Maine is currently planning the next round of training for 2016. It will include more classroom training and practical courses. “This is great for Maine contractors. Getting this off the ground quickly allowed us to train a large number of operators ahead of the new OSHA crane standard. It will increase safety awareness, operator effectiveness, and certainly compliance with these federal regulations.  Without the incredible support from Maine firms this type of cutting edge training doesn’t happen. That is a good indication of how business owners in the construction industry care about their people and the safety of their job sites,” said Don.

Chartered in 1951, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Maine is the state’s largest construction industry trade association. The Association maintains an office in Augusta and has 180 members statewide. Member companies include general contractors, sub-contractors, and service and supply providers. For more information visit www.agcmaine.org