Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

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Steel Erection eTool


Hoisting and Rigging [29 CFR 1926.753]

Rigging and hoisting of steel members and materials are essential parts of the steel erection process. However, in addition to the dangers usually associated with cranes and derricks, steel erection also presents specialized hazards, such as the use of cranes to hoist employees, suspend loads over certain employees, and perform multiple lifts. Because of the specialized nature of these hazards, the provisions below are intended to supplement, rather than displace, the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.550, the OSHA standard covering cranes and derricks in general construction.

Three Workers Killed in Crane Incidents

Case Reports:

  • A crew of ironworkers and a crane operator were unloading a 20-ton steel slab from a low-boy trailer using a 50-ton crawler crane with a 90-foot lattice boom. The operator was inexperienced on this crane and did not know the length of the boom. Further, no one had determined the load radius. During lifting, the load moved forward and to the right, placing a twisting force on the boom. The boom twisted under the load, swinging down, under and to the right. Two crew members standing 30 feet away apparently saw the boom begin to swing, and ran. The boom struck one of the employees—an ironworker—in the head, causing instant death. Wire rope struck the other—a management trainee—causing internal injuries. He died two hours later at a local hospital.
  • A driver made a delivery of steel beams to a job site. After positioning his flatbed truck as directed, he stood near the hydraulic crane that was offloading the truck and watched the operation. The steel erection company controlling the crane had secured the area, instead of barricading the crane’s swing radius, using walls, vehicles, and two strategically placed employees to keep out unauthorized personnel. The driver was allowed to remain in the secured area because he was a friend and knew the operation. While everyone’s attention was diverted, the driver apparently walked up to the crane and was crushed between the crane’s counterweight and the right rear outrigger. He sustained serious injuries to his chest and internal organs, including his liver, and died later that day.

Before each shift, cranes being used in steel erection activities must be visually inspected by a competent person. The inspection must include observation for deficiencies during operation, including, at a minimum [29 CFR 1926.753(c)(1)(i)]:

Failure to Inspect, Maintain Crane Injures Two

Case Report:

  • Three employees of a steel erection contractor were lifting a 200 lb. bundle of crossbraces with a crane. The bundle was lifted at an angle of about 80 degrees— the crane’s load rating chart. Employee #1 was a signalman; Employee #2 was the crane operator; and Employee #3 was an ironworker who was guiding the load at the time of the accident. As the load was lifted, after the boom lever was locked and the load was being cabled down, the load and boom suddenly fell. Employee #3 was pulled off the structural steel, but managed to hang onto the sling that he was using to guide the load. The boom bent and stopped, resting on structural steel and a concrete block wall. Because of the boom bending, Employee #3 had a "soft" landing and sustained only facial lacerations and contusions. However, the boom fall directly on top of Employee #1, though he somehow squeezed into the space between the chords and the diagonals of the crane boom. One of the diagonals struck Employee #1 on the back and drove him into the structural steel, breaking both of his feet and resulting in massive contusions over his entire body. The cause of the incident was uncertain, but investigators noted that the mechanism that is meant to hold the boom in an upright position was out of adjustment, and the crane had not been maintained per the manufacturer's specifications.
Unsafe Ground Conditions Lead to Fatality

Case Report:

  • Two employees of a steel erection contractor had been bolting and welding at a height of 19 feet from a mobile elevated platform. After finishing work on a column, they were riding in the lift with the platform fully extended, when the right front wheel rolled over a pile of debris that had been left on the concrete floor. The scissor lift tipped over, causing one of the employees to sustain serious head trauma. He was taken to an area hospital, where he died. Proper inspection practices could have prevented this incident.
Suspended Load
Multiple lift
Hoisting Error Injures Rigger

Case Report:

  • The victim, a rigger, was in the process of rigging up a "Christmas tree" of three beams. He had put the choker around the first beam, and tightened it by pulling on the leg of the sling. This might have pushed up the top end of the sling, which was already over the hook, so the eye of the sling rode up onto or over the point of the hook, where it caught on the latch. Then the victim signaled the crane operator to raise the load. When the beam was overhead, the rigger began rigging the second beam. All of a sudden, there was a noise that witnesses described as a "click," which may have been the eye of the sling slipping off the latch, and the rigged beam dropped onto the victim, who was hospitalized for fractures sustained in the accident.

Commercially manufactured lifting equipment designed to lift and position a load of known weight to a location at some known elevation and horizontal distance from the equipment’s center of rotation.

A "come-a-long" (a mechanical device usually consisting of a chain or cable attached at each end, that is used to facilitate movement of materials through leverage) is not considered "hoisting equipment."

  • Cranes


  • Headache Ball

    Headache Ball

  • Choker


  • Multiple Lift Rigging

    Multiple Lift Rigging

  • Multi-Lift Rigging Procedure (MLRP)

    Multi-Lift Rigging Procedure (MLRP)

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