Two weeks ago in Houston, infrastructure construction contractor Webber LLC hosted a Crane Operator Rodeo along with the Crane Institute of America, Inc. The event was one of a handful of regional qualifying competitions for the National Championship Rodeo which will be held on October 27-28 at the Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers site about 45 minutes southwest of Orlando in Davenport, FL.
Each of the crane operators who competed had to maneuver a large climbing crane’s hook through three tasks which were laid out on a course in the yard of the Four Seasons Equipment Rental where the Houston regional was held. The tasks were titled “Ball in Barrel”, “Slalom”, and “Stand and Move Pipe” and demonstrated various skills needed to perform work with the large crane safely and productively. Judges scored each task taking into account whether the task was completed successfully, whether any mistakes were made, and the total time the operator took to finish.
I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the judges – Cliff Warren, Crane Safety Superintendent for Webber – who talked with me about the Crane Rodeo. He explained:
“There will be 2 to 3 operators from each regional, and the winners from each regional
will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Florida to compete in the championship where the 1st prize is $1,000, a bomber jacket, a belt buckle, and MVP status at Con Expos – and they get the bragging rights for one year as Master Crane Operator.”
There will be approximately 15 operators competing for the championship in Florida.
One of the reasons that Webber and others are hosting these rodeos is because of the upcoming OSHA mandate which will require all operators to be formally qualified or certified by November 10, 2014. Currently not all operators are required to have any formal certification.
You can view my interview with Mr. Warren below, and look for more video of the actual crane competition in an upcoming post.