The law states that all lifting operations involving lifting equipment must be properly planned by a competent person; appropriately supervised; and carried out in a safe manner. All crane operators and people involved in slinging loads and directing lifting operations, must be trained and competent.

So how do you become a crane operator?

Employers must ‘ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for the purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using work equipment, and risks which such use may entail and the precautions to be taken.’ (PUWER regulation 9). There is a similar duty to ensure adequate training in relation to supervisory and managerial staff.

It is not possible to detail here what constitutes ‘adequate training’, as requirements will vary according to:

  • the job or activity
  • the existing competence of workers
  • the circumstances of the work (eg degree of supervision)
  • the work equipment etc

All the crane courses we offer at Kentra can be registered with our Awarding Body NPORS, who specialise in the accreditation of Industrial and Construction training courses. Detailed below are the course details for training to become a crane operator.

Course Aims and Objectives

To provide the practical skills and the operating safety knowledge necessary for operators to correctly prepare, safely operate and maintain a Crane. The crane courses are designed for candidates of all abilities. We can assist candidates with any learning difficulties or where English may not be their first language.

Course Duration

There are 3 levels of experience

  • Novice: Where full training is required. 3 Candidates: 1 Machine: 1 Instructor: Duration 1-3 Days
  • Refresher and Test: Where candidates require refresher training and may need some remedial tuition. 3 Candidates: 1 Machine: 1 Instructor: 1 Day
  • Experienced Worker Test (EWT): This is just testing only 4 Candidates: 1 Machine: 1 Instructor: 1 Day

Course Content for the Overhead Crane course

  • Responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and other relevant legislation and guidelines
  • Pre-shift checks and daily maintenance
  • Motive and operating controls
  • Carry out load safety checks
  • Liaise with Banks person / Slinger to assess lifting operations
  • Operating the crane correctly under the control of a Banks person / Slinger
  • Carry out various lifts using a variety of lifting tackle unassisted
  • Crane left safe and secure

Learning Outcomes for the Overhead Crane course

So once you have completed the course, what would you have learnt?

  • Have a basic understanding of the dangers and their responsibilities as a Crane operator
  • Be able to locate and identify the major components of the machine and explain their functions
  • Be able to locate and identify key controls and explain their functions
  • Identify and maintain PPE appropriate for Overhead Crane use
  • Conduct all pre-operational and running checks in accordance with manufactures and legislative requirements
  • Prepare the Overhead Crane for use and operate machine safely and efficiently
  • Carry out all end of work and shut down procedures

become a crane operator

Working with Cranes

There are four key aspects to the safe use of cranes:

Tower and mobile cranes are used extensively on construction projects and present two principal hazards:

  • Collapse of the crane – such incidents present significant potential for multiple fatal injuries, both on and off-site;
  • Falling of the load – these events also present a significant potential for death and major injury.

Other incidents have involved people being struck by moving loads, cranes contacting overhead conductors and cranes colliding with each other.

Important note for crane users: The legal responsibilities for safe lifting operations are usually shared between the crane hirer and crane user.

When a crane is hired the responsibility for planning, supervising and carrying out lifting operations rests with the user unless these responsibilities are explicitly assumed by the crane hire company under a ‘contract lift’.

People who hire cranes but do not have the necessary competencies for safe planning and use will need to opt for a ‘Contract Lift’ from the crane hire company.

Planning lifting operations

All lifting operations should be planned so they are carried out safely with foreseeable risks taken into account.

The person appointed to plan the lifting operation should have adequate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifts being undertaken.

The plan will need to address the risks identified by a risk assessment, the resources required, procedures and the responsibilities so that any lifting operation is carried out safely.

The plan should ensure that the lifting equipment remains safe for the range of lifting operations for which the equipment might be used.

British Standard BS 7121Part 1 2006 sets out an acceptable standard for managing lifting operations using cranes on construction projects.

Safe systems of work

You must plan lifting operations carefully to ensure they are carried out safely. Your plan should result in a safe system of work and this information should be recorded. This record is sometimes known as a method statement and you must ensure that everyone involved understands it.

Key elements include:

  • planning – including site preparation, crane erection and dismantling;
  • selection, provision and use of a suitable crane and work equipment
  • including safe slinging and signalling arrangements;
  • maintenance and examination of the crane and equipment;
  • provision of properly trained and competent personnel;
  • supervision of operations by personnel having the necessary authority;
  • thorough examinations, reports and other documents;
  • preventing unauthorised movement or use of the crane; and
  • measures to secure safety of persons not involved in the lifting.

Supervision of lifting

The right level of supervision must be in place for lifting operations, reflecting the degree of risk and personnel involved in the particular lifting operation.

The crane supervisor should direct and supervise the lifting operation to make sure it is carried out in accordance with the method statement.

The crane supervisor should be competent and suitably trained and should have sufficient experience to carry out all relevant duties and authority to stop the lifting operation if it is judged dangerous to proceed.

Thorough examination

There are strict legal requirements concerning the thorough examination of all cranes:

Lifting equipment must be thoroughly examined at the prescribed intervals.  This is a detailed and specialised examination by a competent person. We offer courses to train you to inspect your own lifting accessories and small equipment, more details are on our blogs.

become a crane operator

Organising Training

Crane operator and slinger training

We offer a wide range of lifting operation courses, including Slinger signaller which goes hand in hand with the crane operations, as your crane operator will need to know and understand the signals being demonstrated by the a slinger.

Refresh your crane operator training

We also offer refresher training and experienced worker tests, so your staff can refresh their crane operator knowledge. These courses are a day in duration, the candidates still undertake a theory and practical assessments but without the full operator training.   Refresher courses contain an element of remedial tuition if required to bring the candidate up to speed with current legislation and operating practices.

Arranging the courses

Arranging training with us is simple, contact us through the webpage or give us a call on 01606 832 556 and we can talk you through the different options available depending on the type of crane you use and if you need additional courses such as Slinger / signaller for your candidates. We can arrange for one of our instructors to come out to your site and conduct your training. It really couldn’t be easier to become a crane operator, we are waiting to help you.


Kentra Training