May 2, 2022—The CCO Concrete Pump Operator certification program will launch later this summer. CCO recently spent some time with Kyle Rask, Program Manager – Concrete Pumping at NBIS. Kyle has spent his nearly 20-year safety career working with concrete pumps; he holds a degree in safety; and he chairs the ASME committee that manages the ASME B30.27 Material Placement Systems standard. He has also served for the past year and a half as the chair of the Concrete Pump Operators Task Force that is developing this new CCO certification. Kyle shared why he has become involved with this new program and what people need to know about it ahead of its anticipated June 2022 launch.
Kyle has enjoyed the entire program development process as managed by an accredited testing body like CCO. As with other CCO certification programs, the task force first performed a job task analysis to identify the knowledge necessary for safe operations, then it created an exam blueprint that outlines the exam content, and finally subject matter experts wrote the actual exam questions. The result is a written examination that assesses operators based on U.S. standards and uses real-world scenarios and applications of the standards and regulations, not just memorization of the rules and regulations.
Kyle sees that current CCO certifications have had a big impact on the construction industry. In many people’s eyes “cranes” and “CCO” are synonymous, so the CCO name coming in on the pumping side is very significant. He explained that CCO is a trusted source, so people know that the certification will be professional and reliable. “When you have a CCO-certified person on site, you know that person understands what they’re doing. ‘Trusted, professional, and reliable’…it always comes back to those three words.”
He thinks that adoption of the new program will likely be driven by general contractors requiring it on their jobsites. He said, “CCO is such a well-known brand already on the crane side that bringing this in on the pump side seems natural. As they start to see what’s happening, they will start requesting it because the CCO name itself carries a lot of weight, not only regarding safety but also professionalism. It’s no longer just an in-house type of program; it’s something that’s nationally recognized, which improves credibility.” The same people who work with crane operators work with concrete pumps, so it is just a matter of letting them know that this is available.
Regarding why he’s dedicated so much effort to develop this new certification, Kyle said, “At NBIS our goal is to protect the industry and be on the leading edge of change on regulations, standards, and certification development. A company’s safety programs and procedures give us a picture of what type of culture that company has and its willingness to continue to move above and beyond the minimum.” He continued, “I’m really about safety plans, procedures, culture, and how we can better the industry. At NBIS we’re trying to take the best of the best and spread it to everybody in the industry.”
He also believes that CCO takes it to the next level. “CCO is going to test what the operator knows, so the operator can provide better customer service and improve their efficiency. To get the certification the operator will have to take the extra steps of learning the material, studying, and being prepared for the test. Just doing that alone raises the level of safety within the company. Guys can’t just walk in off the street as a green operator and after a couple of days of classes pass this test and become a certified operator. It’s going to require the company to put a plan together on how it is going to train its people to prepare them for the tests. So, the certification will raise their level of performance and professionalism; if companies want that better operator, the more professional operator, they’re going to have to put the time in.”
Another anticipated benefit of the new program is that certification should also improve retention. As operators train to that higher level and earn their CCO card, that provides a good incentive to stay in this industry. Once they earn their certification, they can be proud of that, and they can be part of this industry over the long haul.
Kyle sees that concrete pumps often go unnoticed, but the pump is there every day, doing walls and footings one day, then columns or decks the next day. A CCO certification will show contractors that these machines must be run by competent operators with a special skill set, and they deserve respect for what is required and the challenges that they face. The contractors need to be educated to bring them up to speed on how powerful and strong and amazing these pumps are these days. Adding a certified operator will let them know that they’re getting the best. He noted, “Because when we hurt people, we really hurt them: big machines, big accidents. With the pressures involved, when things go wrong, they go wrong quick.”
To earn certification, candidates will need to pass single written exam, which will be available via computer-based testing, making it easy for those seeking certification to obtain it quickly. More information on the program is available at www.nccco.org/CPO.
Have questions about the new program? Check out CCO Concrete Pump Operator: Your Questions Answered.