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Is it time for Canada to recognize Rigging as a distinct occupation?

February 9, 2023  By Andrew Kuklas

Rigging operations play a crucial role on Canadian work sites and across a range or occupational trades including crane operators, iron workers, construction electricians, carpenters, millwrights, mechanics, labourers, masons, longshoremen, linemen, steam fitters or pipe fitters, boilermakers. In fact, the average person will often encounter a rigging apparatus in their day-to-day life while camping, doing renovations around the home or making minor motor vehicle repairs.

Within their respective trades, riggers need to be able to perform a variety of tasks including:

  • Estimating load weight and center of gravity;
  • Determining and selecting rigging based on loading;
  • Identifying and attaching rigging with knowledge of hitch configurations and load angle factors, rigging capacities, and load integrity; and
  • Understanding load dynamics and associated hazards.

Riggers therefore need to have an understanding load dynamics and associated hazards and a working knowledge of hoisting equipment, winches, jacks, industrial rollers, and similar equipment.

In countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia – and among members of the European Union – riggers are recognized as skilled professionals who play a crucial role on work sites. Their work involves the handling and moving of loads across a variety of trades such as construction, iron work, masonry, pipefitting, carpentry, and shipping.


In the context of crane operations, the Rigger is the person who does the work “below the hook” including attachment of the load and management of the load while it is being moved.

This is an important role on any job site. Yet unlike other jurisdictions, in Canada there is no officially recognized Canadian standard against which a rigger’s skills can be measured. Although rigging is included in the list of sample titles for Canada’s National Occupational Classification of crane operators, it is not specifically defined and does not have its own occupational code. Despite the importance and complexity of the role, there is no Canadian credential.

This creates a number of issues.

Fraser Cocks, Executive Director of the Canadian Hoisting and Rigging Council (CHRSC), says: “If a crane operator hasn’t had prior experience with the rigger, the operator does not know the rigger’s skill level. This is addressed by making the operator responsible for everything above and below the hook.”

Since crane operators can never be sure of the competence of the rigger appearing on any given day, they must often play the role of educator. Why not just have a recognized Canadian standard for rigging and create a corresponding occupational classification so that these people can be trained and certified or licensed to that standard?

“There is a saying among Canada’s tower crane operators: It takes two to operate a crane. This suggests there is a need for a separate credential with clear accountability for what happens below the hook, and that is something industry has been asking for over many years,” says Cocks.

The industry has long seen the need for a rigging standard and a credential to go with it. Why not follow other jurisdictions and establish a Canadian standard to support independent training and credentialing for Rigging?

“There have been far too many stories of close calls due to inexperienced people performing rigging. Shouldn’t we be establishing a baseline rigging skill set as a start?” asks Cocks.

Most Red Seal construction and mechanical trades have defined rigging content. These vary and are not consistent across the trades. As a start, couldn’t this at least be standardized and made common for all of these trades?

CHRSC is inviting industry input into this subject along with broader issues facing industry. If you would like to have a say please visit and complete the questionnaire posted at the bottom of the home page.

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