How To Hire The Right Lift Director

How To Hire The Right Lift Director



This is the second part of “Lift Director – Are you in Compliance?” published Sept. 10, 2014.  
Click Here to view Part 1

Who Are these Persons? Where do we find them?

oneFirst, this person is a “natural leader”  — not afraid to make informed decisions and stand behind them.  A person that others will trust and follow.

twoSecond, this person must have the necessary experience (based on work history) to effectively perform required tasks and to live up to the many responsibilities.

threeThird, this person must be reliable and dependable.  Reputations, good and bad, are built over time and follow individuals.   The crane and rigging industry is a small group in this country.  Good and Bad actors are easily identified.  Check references and call previous employers.  

Becht Heavy Lift employee crane

Lift Director Profile – “Gray Hair” Effect

A mature person with a lot of experience makes the client more comfortable.  One reputable company designated a senior person from the Iron Worker Craft.  Now, this individual was not the crane operator, BUT, was educated and experienced with the crane’s operation.   Being an Iron Worker – he had much more understanding of How to Handle the Load from the Hook End. He has been a supervisor for many years and by continued success, earned and maintains absolute respect from the crew at all times.   

The lift director must be very adaptable to unplanned issues that may occur – They must not make or allow knee-jerking decisions but instead implement a management of change protocol.   

I recommend Training and Certification whenever and wherever possible.   A recent internet search turned up several reputable companies providing Lift Director Training.  That search also surfaced several other reputable companies that are developing Training and Certification programs.

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) offers an accredited certification for Lift Directors.  The certification outline is shown here:

nccco-seal 135

The NCCCO Lift Director Core Exam includes 6 Domains: 

  • Domain 1:  Site
  • Domain 2: Roles, Responsibilities, and Qualifications
  • Domain 3: Lifting Operations
  • Domain 4: Lift Plans
  • Domain 5: Rigging
  • Domain 6: Signals

The Lift Director Specialty Exams include:

  • Mobile Crane
  • Tower Crane

The content domains in the outline for the Specialty Exams represent the knowledge areas that are generally relevant to load chart usage or lift planning.  It is a good idea to ask questions about each domain during an interview. 

The Lift Director accepts a considerable amount of responsibility. 
In most cases, even more than the site supervisor and or crane operator

Effectively, the Lift Director could land in a court of law or have criminal charges brought against them in the event of a serious accident.  It is my opinion that these persons should be compensated by a higher pay rate than the rest of the crewmembers — but less than the supervisor.

There are many, many requirements for the Lift Director to remember.  Being an expert in your field does not mean you have an eidetic memory.

Develop comprehensive checklist for the Lift Director.  Checklists Work!!!

Provide the Lift Director with the proper tools, such as:

  • Comprehensive/standardized lift plan forms
  • Ensuring the lift team recognizes the Lift Directors authority
  • Support — Make required resources readily available (e.g. engineering assistance, Federal and Local Standards, Client Policies, etc.)

In conclusion, select and designate a lift director who is a mature, experienced leader.   Ensure the proper authority to facilitate the responsibility.  Provide professional training and certification.  Assemble the appropriate lift management tools and make them readily available.  Finally, reward them for accepting the responsibility. 

 Becht Heavy Lift crane design


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About The Author

Joseph (Joe) Collins is the Heavy Lift Division Manager for Becht Engineering Co., Inc. He is providing Consulting and Design Services for Lifting and Transport of process equipment, machinery, chemical, refining and nuclear vessels and components.His duties include consulting to clients using the world’s largest cranes and super heavy lift projects. Mr. Collins has over 45-years’ experience in the heavy lift industry. He served as Commissioner and later as Vice President for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). Joe also served as a member of the Cranes and Derrick Advisory Committee (C-DAC) to OSHA, which wrote and delivered the initial draft of the new OSHA Crane Safety Standard. In January 2011, Engineering News Record magazine honored Joe as one of the “Top 25 Newsmakers” for his work with C-DAC.

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