In order to view all images, please register and log in. This will also allow you to comment on our stories and have the option to receive our email alerts. Click here to register

ECOL / BCAS crane operator licence mutual recognition

The European crane and heavy haulage association ESTA and the British Columbia Association for Crane Safety (BCACS) have signed a Mutual Recognition
Agreement recognising and accepting each other’s crane operator certifications.

Established in 2006, British Columbia Crane Safety had already stated that it would accept the ECOL licence and has a strong record of mutual recognition, already recognising crane operator certifications from all other Canadian provinces, the United States, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The ECOL licence is still very new with only a few training centres offering it, and the number of operators holding it barely in double digits.
Please register to see all images

ESTA director Ton Klijn said: “This shows the growing international interest in ECOL. Agreements like this will enhance crane operator training on a worldwide level. ECOL can improve both safety and employment flexibility, allowing good operators to work wherever they are needed – something that will be a significant plus, especially for the big international operating companies.”

BCACS executive director Fraser Cocks added: “This is truly a landmark agreement which demonstrates our mutual commitment to the highest professional crane operator safety standards. Through our partnership we have made a world class quality crane operator certification system and this work is only the beginning. We look forward to deepening our ties with ECOL while bringing the benefits of this MRA to the rest of Canada.”

ESTA/ECOL has already accepted mutual recognition of the Dutch crane operators licence and says that it hopes to add others in the near future.

Vertikal Comment

It is slightly odd that more mutual recognition agreements were not lined up with a few more European entities in advance of the launch. We are already aware of a number of highly experienced crane operators that have expressed an interest in obtaining an ECOL but given up after having hit a block unless you are fluent Dutch or German speakers.

The ECOL website states that those with more than eight years crane operating experience will need to take a one week training course – 16 hours theory, 16 hours practical - then sit the exam, and yet reports from several operators - with more than 10 years full time experience - that applied to the Mammoet Academy in the Netherlands only to be told that they would need to take a three week course for €6,995, while another was told five weeks and €9,995, all were told that non Dutch courses would only start when it has enough participants for a particular language.

Liebherr Ehingen does offer the one week course for which it charges €3,000 (€2,600 plus VAT), but also recommends taking its two week crane operators course first.

At the same time the number of contractors recognising - let alone accepting - the ECOL certification is minimal, making it even less attractive to dedicate the time and funds to taking it.

To be fair, the idea of a European Crane operators licence is a sound one, it is much needed and should be rigorously pursued. ECOL is still in its infancy and it has suffered from the pandemic's arrival just before launch. Just getting to this point in the project required a huge amount of persistence and dedication from those that have been involved with the licence, but what it needs now is some real marketing firepower to spread the word among contractors, while making it a great deal more welcoming and to highly experienced operators with a solid safe track record, certified – especially those that already hold a widely accepted and respected certification - encouraging them to invest in it.

In many respects it requires a plan that can give the project a good kick start while solving the ‘cart before the horse’ attitude that seems to be threatening further progress of what can be a really good thing.


emailed comment
Thanks for your coverage of the European Crane Operators Licence and our Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) with BCACS from British Columbia in Canada.
Your comments, however, have prompted us to respond to some of the points that you have raised.

Lining up Mutual Recognition Agreements in advance of the launch as you suggested proved to be impossible as every organisation that has been asked to join wants to see a working education and examination system.
That is why we choose to first develop and register the system under EQF before we started forging MRAs.

ECOL is a major undertaking for a relatively small organisation like ours, and we have to take its development a step at a time to ensure that standards are professionally maintained.

Having said that, you are right - we need to raise ECOL’s profile with major contractors and construction clients while at the same time putting in place as many MRAs as we can across Europe, coupled with expanding the number of training and examination institutes. We are slowly and steadily making progress in that direction.
However, your statement that operators need to be fluent in Dutch or German is incorrect. From the outset the ECOL licence could be trained for and examined in English, and at present also in Dutch, Danish and German. We are planning to expand the number of languages in due course.

As you are aware ECOL only sets a standard, and does not administer training or examinations itself. For this reason we cannot comment on training costs quoted by Mammoet Academy, Liebherr or any other ECOL certified training institute.

Operators that wish to be informed about the possibilities of training and examination are advised to look for the correct information at the ECOL website.

We were pleased to read that you support the idea of the European Crane Operators Licence as a sound one, and we would welcome your support to assist us in delivering the marketing firepower that you advise us to use.
With this in mind we are most willing to answer any queries you might have with regard to the development of the ECOL system.

Ton Klijn

Jul 24, 2020