Two groups have aligned to develop a nationally accredited exam for a construction professional called by many names: crane inspector, crane certifier, crane surveyor and so on.

Not required by the federal government, such a credential is only mandatory in California, and recently, Washington state, which started enforcement this year. The states launched inspector tests after tower cranes collapsed in San Francisco in 1989 and Bellevue, Wash., in 2006.

The Fairfax, Va.-based National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, which helped Washington develop its test, and the Vancouver-based Crane Certification Association of America�which administers a private exam to its members�are developing a national examination that will be �fair, valid and legally defensible,� the groups say.

Both groups stand to gain. CCAA�s test is not accredited; NCCCO�s existing tests are accredited. They plan to submit the inspector�s exam, expected to be available in mid-2011, for American National Standards Institute accreditation.

Examiners intend to close a gap in the safety chain. �When you look at the lifting environment, you�ve got various people involved,� says Graham Brent, NCCCO�s executive director. �The crane operator is critical�we all know that�that�s why we focused on the operator initially.�

Since NCCCO launched in 1996, other tests�and competitors�have arrived. The agency has 52,000 crane operators certified today. It also has developed tests for other lifting personnel, with 1,000 riggers and 2,000 signalers certified. California has 565 licensed inspectors. In Washington, 68 have taken its main exam. Of those, 46 are licensed. The pass rate is 82% for the state�s general exam, 79% for the mobile-crane exam and 63% for the tower-crane exam, says NCCCO.