European Crane Operator Licence [ECOL]

What is ECOL?

ECOL is a European operator licencing system, created by ESTA and aimed at the operators of mobile cranes as defined in the EN 13000 construction norm. Operators of tower cranes and overhead cranes are not yet included in the system.

The ECOL system sets a standard for the training and examination of operators; it also sets a standard for the content and quality of the training and examination administered. The training itself is done by local training institutes established in the various EU countries. They will also arrange a local examination.

The ECOL standard has different training programs for novice operators and for operators who already have a national licence and a number of years of operating experience. The ECOL training and examination can be done in English, or in your own language, provided there is a training institute in your country. A precondition for taking part in an ECOL training and examination is that you are at least 18 years old and hold of a valid EU class-C driving licence [truck driving licence].

Why is ECOL necessary?

Currently each European Member State has its own rules for the professional competence and certification of crane operators. These rules range from compulsory to optional and even to no rules at all. The differences can lead to confusion, have a negative impact on safety and also prevent the mobility of crane operators in Europe. 

It is ECOL’s ambition to:

  • enable every crane operator in Europe to demonstrate that he or she meets the minimum requirements of the industry.
  • enable every crane operator to exercise his profession in any European member state, without having to attend multiple unnecessary retraining and examination sessions.
  • enable every employer to assess the qualifications and experience of any operator applying for a position.
  • enable every site or plant manager to check the qualifications and experience of any crane operator who enters his construction site or plant.

ECOL is a non-profit organisation, structured as a foundation under Dutch law and governed by a supervisory board with representatives from the crane users, crane manufacturers and crane operator labour unions.

For more information about ECOL and for details about how crane operators can become ECOL-qualified,
go to