August 2, 2022—Graham Brent—CEO of the NCCCO Foundation and former CEO of CCO—retired, effective July 29, 2022. Brent led the non-profit certification body CCO virtually since the inception of CCO certification programs in 1996 until he stepped down three years ago to take up leadership of the recently formed NCCCO Foundation.
Looking back at CCO’s history over the past 27 years, one can see Brent’s handprints all over the organization and everything it has accomplished. Much of this success was the result of ideas generated by Graham’s never-ceasing 24/7 drive to improve safety, reduce accidents, and get people home to their families safely at the end of the day. His contributions to improving the safety and professionalism of the crane and rigging industry are innumerable.
From the organization’s early years, Brent was instrumental in facilitating all of CCO’s activities including sourcing donations, cultivating media and industry relationships, as well as getting the most knowledgeable subject matter experts in the industry to serve with CCO.
As the organization matured, he established relationships with multiple industry organizations as well as received formal recognition by OSHA, other federal agencies, and state governments that recognized that CCO certification saved lives. Throughout his career he worked with individual states and municipalities to support and codify into law certification and licensing requirements. Graham even brough safety to industries other than crane and rigging as evidenced by the relationship formed with the National Wireless Safety Alliance.
He also helped put together the Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee (CDAC) that developed the initial industry recommendations to OSHA to require crane operator certification that were eventually incorporated in the new OSHA Crane Rule. He shepherded the lengthy process, even testifying before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee when requested.
Brent brought his message of the importance of crane safety and CCO’s story to a worldwide audience. He spoke at numerous international conferences, including those in London, Amsterdam, Singapore, India, Australia, Mozambique, South Africa, and the Middle East. He also served as secretariat of ISO TC 96/SC 8, an international standards organization that focuses on standardization in the field of cranes and related equipment that suspend loads by means of a load-handling device.
Brent championed accreditation as means to differentiate CCO certifications from others available and demonstrate they meet established standards. The CCO Mobile Crane Operator certification was first accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) in 2004. Then in 2008, CCO worked diligently to earn accreditation through what was then known as American National Standards Institute (ANSI) [now known as the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB)], confirming compliance with international standard ISO 17024.
Graham maximized CCO’s industry outreach through multiple creative means, including the Lift Safety Zone that highlighted safe operation of load handling equipment, numerous educational seminars in a special Crane and Rigging track at tradeshows, and recognition programs for those who are certified and employers who require certification.
Graham organized annual Industry Forums on Personnel Qualifications to share various perspectives and initiatives by government, industry, and the accreditation community. “Many in the industry do not often get the chance to meet and discuss one-on-one with those in federal government who make and/or enforce the standards they have to comply with,” explained Brent. “These Forums provide just such an opportunity.”
Brent helped establish Lift & Move USA. The program, turned non-profit organization, aims to help fill the skilled labor gap by reaching out to high school students and veterans regarding potential lucrative career opportunities in the crane and rigging industry.
Brent established the NCCCO Foundation in 2018 with a mission to promote industry safety by conducting research, educating about—and advocating for—personnel safety and certification, and facilitating access by youth, military personnel, and underserved communities to education, training, and certification through scholarships and grants. The NCCCO Foundation also participates in a variety of standards-setting activities, both nationally and internationally. The Foundation also manages the Crane Type Advisory Group (CTAG), which identifies the “most similar” certifications for equipment requiring a certified operator when no accredited certification is available.
One would never know that Graham was behind all of this success because of his usually demur nature, but he was the glue that brought all of the pieces together to make CCO what it is today.
CCO, and our stakeholders, will forever recognize Brent for his innovation, dedication, and commitment to improving the industry and saving lives.