August 28, 2009
Mr. Reijo Kamula
4401 Gateway Boulevard
Springfield, Ohio 45502
Dear Mr. Kamula:
Thank you for your March 18, 2009, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). Your letter has been referred to DEP's Office of General Industry Enforcement (GIE) for a clarification of OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.179, Overhead and Gantry Cranes. This constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence.
Your questions are paraphrased and our responses follow.
Background: When OSHA first promulgated its safety and health standards, it adopted several industry consensus standards, including standards published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). See, 36 Federal Register 10466 (May 29, 1971). Some of these standards contained advisory provisions, including the use of the term "should," which were adopted verbatim by OSHA. Prior to 1984, OSHA maintained that all standards, regardless of whether the term "should" or "shall" was used, created mandatory compliance responsibilities.
OSHA adopted ANSI B30.2.0-1967, Overhead and Gantry Cranes, in its standard at 29 CFR 1910.179, Overhead and Gantry Cranes. The ANSI standard states in paragraph 2-2.2.2 that, "[p]rior to initial use, all new, extensively repaired, and altered cranes should be tested by or under the direction of an appointed or authorized person and a written report furnished by such person, confirming the load rating of the crane." [Emphasis added.] OSHA had incorporated this "should" statement into 29 CFR 1910.179(k)(2).1
On February 10, 1984, OSHA issued a final rule, Revocation of Advisory and Repetitive Standards, which revoked several provisions in 29 CFR 1910 that used the word "should," or other advisory language instead of the mandatory "shall." See, 49 Federal Register 5318. Included in the final rule was the deletion of the first two sentences from the standard at 29 CFR 1910.179(k)(2). This deletion was consistent with OSHA's standard at 29 CFR 1910.6, which provides that only mandatory provisions, that is, provisions containing the word "shall" or other mandatory language of standards incorporated by reference, are adopted as standards by OSHA.
As you note in your letter, on March 4, 1991, OSHA's National Office issued a letter of interpretation regarding 29 CFR 1910.179(k)(2) to Mr. Thomas W. Hagerty which states that "rated load tests are required for new and altered cranes." However, on September 9, 1994, OSHA's Region 5 Office issued a letter of interpretation to you stating that 29 CFR 1910.179 does not "require load testing for new, used, or modified overhead and gantry cranes. The basis for the Region's interpretation was that both ANSI B30.2.0-1967 and more recent versions of the standard contain the advisory "should" regarding the requirement for rated load testing for new and altered cranes. This advisory language is still maintained in the 2005 version of ANSI B30.2.
Question 1: Does OSHA require rated load tests for new or altered cranes?
Reply 1: OSHA requires rated load tests for new and altered cranes as stated in OSHA's letter of interpretation to Mr. Thomas Hagerty dated March 4, 1991. OSHA's standard at 29 CFR 1910.179(b) states:
(2) New and existing equipment. All new overhead and gantry cranes constructed and installed on or after August 31, 1971, shall meet the design specifications of the American National Standard Safety Code for Overhead and Gantry Cranes, ANSI B30.2.0-1967, which is incorporated by reference as specified in Sec. 1910.6.
(3) Modifications. Cranes may be modified and re-rated provided such modifications and the supporting structure are checked thoroughly for the new rated load by a qualified engineer or the equipment manufacturer. The crane shall be tested in accordance with paragraph (k)(2) of this section. New rated load shall be displayed in accordance with subparagraph (5) of this paragraph.
Additionally, OSHA's standard at 29 CFR 1910.179(k) states:
(1) Operational tests.
(i) Prior to initial use all new and altered cranes shall be tested to insure compliance with this section including the following functions:
(a) Hoisting and lowering.
(b) Trolley travel.
(c) Bridge travel.
(d) Limit switches, locking and safety devices.
(ii) The trip setting of hoist limit switches shall be determined by tests with an empty hook traveling in increasing speeds up to the maximum speed. The actuating mechanism of the limit switch shall be located so that it will trip the switch, under all conditions, in sufficient time to prevent contact of the hook or hook block with any part of the trolley.
(2) Rated load test. Test loads shall not be more than 125 percent of the rated load unless otherwise recommended by the manufacturer. The test reports shall be placed on file where readily available to appointed personnel.
The 1984 revocation of the advisory language in 29 CFR 1910.179(k)(2) did not eliminate the requirement for new and altered cranes to be load tested. Paragraph 1910.179(k)(1) requires that "[p]rior to initial use all new and altered cranes shall be tested to insure compliance with this section [1910.179]..." As rated load testing is part of section 1910.179, employers are required to perform the test on new and altered cranes in order to be compliant with the requirement in 29 CFR 1910.179(k)(1). Also, section 1910.179 contains other provisions that necessitate load testing to ensure compliance. For instance, paragraph 1910.179(n)(1) requires the employer to ensure that "[t]he crane shall not be loaded beyond its rated load except for test purposes as provided in paragraph (k) of this section [1910.179]." In order to ensure compliance with this provision as well, an employer must confirm the load rating of the crane which would require a load test.
Once a rated load test is performed, paragraph 1910.179(k)(2) requires that "[t]he test reports shall be placed on file where readily available to appointed personnel."
Question 2: What is OSHA's enforcement policy regarding rated load testing for new and altered cranes?
Reply 2: As discussed in the reply to question 1, OSHA requires rated load testing for new and altered cranes prior to their initial use to ensure that any significant problems or errors made during the repair or installation process would be revealed prior to placing the crane in operation. OSHA does not consider the provisions regarding rated load testing in the most recent version of ANSI B30.2, ANSI B30.2-2005, to be as protective as the requirements in 29 CFR 1910.179(k). Therefore, an employer must comply with the OSHA standard and cannot utilize the ANSI standard as a basis for a de minimus condition.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. Please be aware that OSHA's enforcement guidance is subject to periodic review and clarification, amplification, or correction. Such guidance could also be affected by subsequent rulemaking. In the future, should you wish to verify that the guidance provided herein remains current, you may consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs
1 As adopted in 1971, 29 CFR 1910.179(k)(2) provided: "Rated Load Test. Prior to initial use all new, extensively repaired, and altered cranes should be tested by or under the direction of an appointed or authorized person, confirming the load rating of the crane. The load rating should not be more than 80 percent of the maximum load sustained during the test. Test loads shall not be more than 125 percent of the rated load unless otherwise recommended by the manufacturer. The test reports shall be placed on file where readily available to appointed personnel." [ back to text ]