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.
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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.
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.