Crane operators control mobile or stationary cranes to lift, move and place objects at locations such as building and construction sites, wharves and shipyards. This activity occurs all over the world and is a high risk task with many noted examples of serious incidents and accidents. There are identifiable key causes that have been noted through analysis of the well documented cases and many of these causes are preventable through effective training programs. Internationally, there are not currently consistent approaches to crane operator training program content or duration. Leading causes of crane accidents are firstly discussed and identified as areas for inclusion in training programs. A number of current training approaches from a range of countries are then considered and these are used to outline the basis of a generic competency standard for crane operation, as it was found that there are not common standards in place. The proposed competency standard can be adapted by training regulators, training providers, government agencies, industry bodies and enterprises as a benchmark for the development of effective training programs.