Client support for ECOL grows

ESTA’s planned European Crane Operators’ Licence  is receiving growing support from major clients who see it as a way of improving performance and safety on site.

ESTA Director Ton Klijn said: “There are very good signs that client organisations are beginning to see the advantages of ECOL. Informally, we have already had strong signs of support from the wind industry and I believe there is growing interest in the oil and gas sector and engineering construction sectors as well.”

Klijn’s views were echoed by Leon Schopping, a former Shell construction manager and principle technical expert for lifting and hoisting, a role in which he got to know the issues facing ESTA members well. Today he is construction/heavy lift and transport manager for contracting giant Fluor.

Speaking in a personal capacity, he said: “Personally, I think ECOL is a fantastic idea. As an industry client, we have long struggled with the problem of judging whether a crane operator is truly qualified – and qualified to do what. 

“To create one common qualification platform – as distinct from a plethora of different and varying national qualifications – will make life for a client much easier, especially if it is at a level that gives you a certain assurance that the operator knows that they are doing.”

“If crane operators are “self assured” by their employers, the crane rental company, that can be a concern. Without common standards, operators are not necessarily assured to a recognized level. 

“So a common standard such as the ECOL could raise safety standards – and that is what it is all about. We are all working towards the safest possible workplace and this could be a significant improvement.”

Speaking off the record, a senior expert from the wind energy sector agreed. “The wind industry is changing and expanding – we need more and bigger cranes out in the field and we need operators that are properly qualified. 

“We have to be honest. There are currently people out there who are operating a crane who should not be. As a client, often you do not have a clue who is sitting in the crane. ECOL can help change that situation. It would be a tremendous step forward and would improve safety a lot.”