Get Rigged! The Differences in Rigging Quals.
by Daniel Green
Without inflating their ego too much, lifting crews are pretty awesome. They can hoist almost anything into or onto anyplace, and they can do it pretty much anytime or anywhere. 4t tilt slab placed perfectly on nearby columns? Easy. 8t excavator to the top of a building slated for a demo? Done. Cableway rigged 30m in the air so you can send gear across the site? Hold my beer.
In the third quarter of 2020 Perfect demolished a 29 tonne stairway for Downer and TfNSW at Birrong Train Station. Except first it had to be removed. In one piece. The sheer distance from the stairway to the nearest solid ground was so far that a 500t crane had to be used at full extension and within 90% of its capacity. So late one Saturday afternoon in September of last year, Borges rolled in with a 500t mobile, four shiny new matching Freightliners loaded with counterweights, and six dual cab utes brimming with three riggers apiece. Those guys were mechanised. They knew what to do so well that they did it almost without speaking. Needless to say, the stairway came out cleanly and without so much as a scratch on the construction, it left behind.
Borges has a reputation as one of the best. So, if you want to end up with them or someone like them, you’ll need to get into this career elevator in the basement: as a Dogman. So named from the 1940’s industrial term for the man that worked with a [mechanical] lifting dog, the Dogman specialises in securing loads for the Crane Operator to lift. They communicate with hand signals, a radio, or a whistle. A dogging course is a full five-day training package and will cost somewhere in the vicinity of $1500. There’s a lot of information to cover. So there are no allowances for any time off during training – if you miss a day you’ve got to start again. Once you’ve passed both the theory and practical, you take your certificate down to the Post Office and apply for a High-Risk Work licence [HRW], which is the pink NSW government-issued card that slips into your wallet. It’s valid for five years. In the meantime your certificate and paper HRW mean only one thing: it’s time to start dogging!
So now you’re a working Dogman. Nice! A couple of years go by and your skills grow by the day. But you want more so you start looking into becoming a Rigger. Technically you can go from your DG course straight into your RB [Rigging, Basic], but it’s always a wise idea to school up on what being a Dogman is actually all about, so good choice to go do your time first! This too is a week-long full-time commitment. This will cost around $1500 and builds on the skills you learnt in your DG course, as well as the skills you’ve learnt on site.
As a trained basic level Rigger, you’re really only just getting started but at least now you’ve begun. Now you can get out on site and begin learning the art of lifting. This will invariably include small plant & equipment, some precast concrete, safety nets & static lines, perimeter safety screens & shutters, steel erection, and similar activities. Naturally, some of these will be poorly weighted, unbalanced, and in awkward configurations. With any luck, you’ll be working alongside a more experienced Rigger who’ll show you the ropes – pun completely intended.
If ascending to the apex of your rigging proficiency is what you’re after, do as that fab 80’s superstar sang and Never [Gonna] Give [You] Up. Once you’re an old hand at being basic, next up is intermediate. Again, the course is a full week, is about $1500, and builds on the prior skills and knowledge you’ve adopted in the RB and DG courses as well as your time on site. It’s also good to revisit training every couple of years because even for Riggers – bad habits creep in. Once qualled up and out on site your work will invariably extend to more complex tasks. The tasks like working with cranes, conveyors, dredges & excavators, tilt slabs, hoists with jibs & self-climbing hoists, demolition and tandem lifts.
State of Origin
It’s undeniably the peak event of the sport of
Rigby Rugby League. In the same way, the advanced rigging training package is the peak of lifting qualifications. It’s the big rig. Lethal Weapon’s Riggs n’ Murtaugh. The Rigs-a-Million store can never stop closing down. If you’ve made it here then you’ve likely been in the game for many years. In fact, your average construction site – even a tier one site – will often only require an experienced RI rigger. So, getting trained to the advanced level is a bit like going for that last try on the siren – it puts you in the top 1%. Again, the course builds on your many years of experience and training right – from when you were a lowly Dogman getting barked at by the cranky crane operator. But when you graduate your world will soon be filled with complex lifts such as gin poles & shear legs, flying foxes & cableways, guyed derricks & structures, and suspended & hung scaff.
So there you have it. For the princely sum of $6k and six or seven years of training & upskilling, you can go from zero to hero. From a nobody to a lifting legend. From a dreamer to a schemer [on how to lift something safely and efficiently]. Like a 30t long reach digger suspended from a crawler crane so it can sling radioactive explosives into sub-level 58 of Pine Gap.
Or maybe you’ll just move a plate compactor on a resi job 3 minutes from home.
Either way, you did it! Rig and Roll!!