The NCCCO Foundation Board of Directors has named Fred Simmons Chair of the Crane Type Advisory Group (CTAG) following the retirement of Dave Ritchie. Simmons takes up his new position immediately, according to NCCCO Foundation President, Garry Higdem, who made the announcement.

“Dave leaves behind an outstanding legacy for which we are all enormously grateful,” said Higdem. “And we are equally confident that Fred will continue that legacy for the betterment of industry and all those whose work brings them into contact with cranes and rigging.”

Since it was established five years ago, CTAG has made more than 30 determinations as to the “most similar” certification applicable to operators of types of cranes for which no specific accredited operator certification is available*.

“With the recent publication of OSHA’s revised Compliance Directive that includes specific guidance to compliance officers as to how to implement federal crane operator qualifications, we anticipate increased requests from employers as to which certification is the most appropriate,” added Higdem. “And we are confident, given the unrivaled breadth and depth of the experience of the subject matter experts who serve on the Committee, that CTAG will be able to provide that guidance.”

Anyone interested in seeking a determination as to the most similar certification for which no specific program exists can email the CTAG Committee at, Hidgem noted.


Fred Simmons is Inspection and Training Manager with Foley Material Handling Co., Ashland, VA. He has over 40 years’ experience as a crane inspector, service manager and instructor in a wide range of industries including power stations (nuclear, fossil and water), railroads, maritime (including cargo handling and shipbuilding) and manufacturing, as well as numerous government and military installations.

He is approved by, and has signatory authority from, the U.S. Department of Labor to inspect and certify shore-based material handling equipment, and performs inspections on all types of material handling devices. He manages inspection, service and training personnel on daily job tasks and assignments, and is responsible for developing and presenting all Foley student training materials.

Fred is an active member of the Crane Certification Association of America (CCAA), serves on the Service and Safety Committee of the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA), and is an NCCCO Commissioner. He is also a member of two NCCCO Exam Management Committees: for Crane Inspectors, and Overhead Crane Operators which he also chairs.

Dave Ritchie was the inaugural Chair of CTAG, having served in that capacity since 2017 when CTAG was established. He has more than 50 years of construction experience, including 17 as a crane operator, and was a member of the Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee (C-DAC) which re-wrote the OSHA crane standard in 2003-4.

He has been a member of several ASME and NCCCO committees, and has authored numerous technical articles and authoritative crane and rigging training materials including the 40-hour instructor-based course Professional Crane Operator for St. Paul Travelers (later adopted by AGC of America), Planning and Safely Performing Rigging Jobs, and the interactive training course, Crane Signaling. Dave is frequently called upon as an expert witness and accident investigator.

The Crane Type Advisory Group was formed in May 2017 by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) in expectation of the need for guidance to industry in identifying the “most similar” certifications for operators of equipment for which no accredited certification is available. Responsibility for the activities of CTAG was transferred in 2019 to the NCCCO Foundation, which continues to operate the program as a fee-free public service to industry.

Comprised of crane subject matter experts with an unrivaled wealth of experience across a multitude of different types of cranes and applications, and representing literally hundreds of years of in-the-field, hands-on expertise, CTAG has been charged with providing authoritative advice and direction to employers and crane operators as to the appropriate certification for operators of different types of cranes. A Directory of its determinations made to date is available for consultation by employers and operators alike. CTAGs vision is to ensure that no type of crane is left undocumented as to the appropriate certification required by the operator of that crane.