April 2015—“Through the process of certification, we gain knowledge, which in return makes us better and safer operators.” So says, Doug Welchert, a 24-year veteran crane operator and a two-star recertified CCO crane operator.
Doug, an Equipment Superintendent for Kiewit Building Group responsible for the maintenance and assembly and disassembly on all types of cranes, has been a crane operator for over 20 years and will be recertifying as a CCO mobile crane operator for the second time later this year. “Recertification is helpful in making sure you refresh your skills on different load charts, as well as general crane responsibilities,” he adds.
In addition to his Telescopic Boom Crane—Swing Cab (TLL), Lattice Boom Truck Crane (LBT), and Lattice Boom Crawler Crane (LBC) mobile crane operator certifications, Doug also has achieved his Tower Crane (TWR) certification, which happens to be his favorite type of crane to operate. “It is very peaceful when you are up there all alone in the cab. It gives you an overview of the entire job and you can see how everything on the project is progressing.”
Before Doug started his career as a crane operator in his native Omaha, NE, area, he operated skid steer loaders, backhoes, and excavators. He is certain that if he had not had his CCO certification, he would have never been given the opportunity to operate cranes or be involved in many of the major projects in the area. His most memorable experience is with a Manitowoc 2250 he operated for nearly two years on the construction of the CenturyLink Center convention center. “My family has attended many events in that convention center since it was completed,” Doug says, “And my children talk about me running the crane on that job. I would have never been given that opportunity without CCO certification.”
Doug also believes that certification has helped him become a safer operator. “In order to pass the exams for certification, an operator must understand all the aspects of being a crane operator,” he says. Doug mentions that in addition to being able to operate the crane, “CCO certification also requires the operator to know applicable standards and regulations and how they apply to the work of a crane operator.”
Twenty years of experience operating various types of mobile and tower cranes has given Doug some perspective in the field, and he has advice for operators just starting out. “Ask lots of questions, since there are no dumb questions, just bad results,” he says. Doug also advises that operators need to make sure they get good first, before operating fast. “Don’t let the pace of the work needing to be done make you nervous. And always follow and understand the load charts.”
When Doug isn’t operating cranes for Kiewit Building Group he enjoys spending his time with his children, rifle and archery hunting, and restoring old equipment. Doug is currently working on rebuilding and restoring a 1956 International Farmall Cub Lo Boy tractor.