Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at

August 14, 1989

Mr. Richard Hoffman
McLean Contracting Company
1301 Fidelity Building
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Dear Mr. Hoffman:

This is a further clarification of our letter of May 11, 1989, concerning the requirements for controlled load lowering and prohibition of the use of cranes with live booms as stated in 29 CFR 1926.550(g).

First, I'd like to thank you for allowing the Solicitor of Labor and OSHA staff to visit your Baltimore operation on June 9, 1989, and for the demonstration of the "Westinghouse Brakes" retrofitted on the crane which is mounted on the barge "Curtis Bay".

The operation of the crane was observed with the following equipment and procedures:

* Two "Westinghouse Brakes", one connected to the boom hoist brake mechanism and the other to the load hoist brake mechanism.

* A two part safety control system, which is activated (on/off) electrically by a toggle switch. When the safety control system is activated, neither the boom hoist or the load hoist mechanism can be moved. To move or operate either the boom or load hoist mechanism, the operator must depress a separate control button which provides positive air pressure to the "Westinghouse Brakes" thus disengaging both the boom and hoist brakes. Any release of the control button or a loss of air pressure, engages the boom and load hoist brake immediately.

When the toggle switch is in the "off" position, the "Westinghouse Brakes" are inactivated, allowing the boom and load hoist brakes to operate normally.

* Indicator lights, which show that the system is activated, are located inside and outside the operator's cab. The indicator light outside the cab is visible to personnel being hoisted.

Based on the June 9, 1989 demonstration and subsequent discussions regarding your current safety inspection and maintenance program, and personnel hoisting policy; OSHA agrees that the personnel hoisting method demonstrated would meet the intent of current OSHA requirements for: (1) controlled load lowering, (2) the prohibition against free fall, and (3) the prohibition against using a crane with a live boom.

This determination is based on the assurance that any of your barge-mounted cranes used to hoist personnel continue to be certificated by a U.S. D.O.L. Accredited Agency and that your safety program, at a minimum, include:

* Compliance with all other requirements of 29 CFR 1926.550(g), and other appropriate crane regulations, to ensure, through a comprehensive crane testing, inspection, maintenance and repair program, that the crane, including the safety control system, is maintained and operated properly.

* Lowering of the personnel platform during a personnel lift is accomplished by "gearing down" (power down), and not by free fall.

* Constant use of the "Westinghouse Brake" device while hoisting personnel.

Thank you for your interest in this matter. If you need additional information, please feel free to contact this office at (202) 523-8136.


Gerald P. Reidy, Director
Office of Construction and Maritime
Compliance Assistance