Becoming a Rigger

Becoming a Rigger is not unlike becoming any other skilled tradesman. It involves experience and training. Experience is gained by on-the-job learning and through formal apprenticeships. Training may be in the form of courses given by an employer or knowledge gained from seminars and courses offered by third-party schools or organizations. To become an accomplished Rigger requires both experience and training.

On-The-Job Learning
On-the-job learning, more frequently referred to as on-the-job training or OJT for short, is literally learning by doing. Many companies feel this is the best method of gaining experience because it occurs at the work site in the normal work environment. Other employers feel that on-the-job learning should be limited to broadening a previously formally trained Rigger's skills. Because it occurs “in-house” and during actual projects, it is economical in that it involves the use of more experienced Riggers as informal teachers. Additionally, is makes use of company-owned equipment and facilities. On-the-job learning does not necessarily require formal planning or organization.

Apprenticeships
An apprenticeship is a more formalized method of on-the-job learning. It is beneficial to both the employer and the apprentice Rigger in that it insures a continuing supply of new generation Riggers through a structured set of competency based skills. Like pure on-the-job learning, most of the experience is gained while working for an employer who helps the apprentice learn the rigging trade in exchange for continuing labor for an agreed period after achieving measurable competencies. Often times employers will combine formalized training by an outside source with on-the-job learning to create the Rigger apprentice program.

In-House Standalone Training
Aside from an apprenticeship program, a large company may elect to generate its own formalized Rigger education program. Given the multitude of third-party training organizations, most employers find this route not to be cost-effective.

Out Sourced Training
Most employers elect to allow outside companies and trade organizations to conduct formalized training for their Riggers. The number and kinds of Rigger training programs and the offering organizations are too numerous to list. A simple internet search will produce a large list of programs.

Regulatory-Becoming A Qualified Rigger
OSHA does not mandate certification to become a qualified Rigger. Specifically OSHA states that a Rigger should be a qualified person who

  • Possesses a recognized degree, or certificate, or professional standing, or
  • Has extensive knowledge, training, and experience, and
  • Can successfully demonstrate the ability to solve problems related to rigging loads

OSHA indicates that the employer will determine whether a person is qualified to perform specific rigging tasks.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) publishes a recommended practice that includes a formalized training program to become an API qualified Rigger for certain offshore platforms and drilling rigs. A future article will cover this topic in greater detail.

What A Rigger Must Know
Whether through on-the-job learning, formalized training, work experience, or a combination of all, to become a Rigger an individual must know:

  • How to determine a load's weight
  • How to determine a load's center of gravity
  • How to select proper sling and rigging hardware
  • The effect of sling angles
  • The proper methods of safe load securing
  • How to select proper hitches and their applications
  • Standard hand and voice signal communications
  • How to inspect rigging equipment

In addition, a journeyman Rigger ( a journeyman is someone who has completed an apprenticeship) will have some knowledge of crane operations, basic math, and safety and accident prevention.