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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

October 4, 1989

Harry O. Mayer, Jr.,
General Manager
CRW Tool & Equipment
Post Office Box 596
South Houston, Texas 77587

Dear Mr. Mayer:

This is in response to your request addressed to our Regional Office in Dallas, Texas for an interpretation of several issues involving cranes and personnel hoists covered by our new standard, 29 CFR 1926.550(g). The new standard is very restrictive in allowing personnel to be hoisted by cranes or derricks and prohibits the practice, except when the erection, use, and dismantling of conventional means of access would be more hazardous or is not possible because of structural design or worksite conditions. Therefore, the standard and following interpretations are intended for those cranes or derricks involved in the hoisting of personnel when no safe alternative is available:

1926.550(g)(3)(ii)(D): Free Fall is not an allowed option. When hoisting personnel the crane or derrick must incorporate a method to control the lowering of personnel platforms. OSHA does not require that the free fall option be removed or mechanically eliminated, only that it not be used when hoisting personnel.

1926.550(g)(3)(ii)(A): The boom angle indicator does not have to be located within the cab. The indicator can be externally mounted provided that the indicator is visible and in plain view of the operator at all times.

1926.550(g)(3)(ii)(C): The standard is very clear when it states that a positive acting device shall be used which prevents contact between the load block or overhaul ball and the boom tip (anti-two-blocking device), or that a system be used which deactivates the hoisting action before damage occurs in a potential two-blocking situation. Your interpretation that the lifting motion is to be stopped immediately, either by a braking action or by other mechanical means, is correct. In addition, the two-blocking situation you refer to should no occur, due to the action of the anti-two-blocking device and the other provisions of this standard which requires: (1) a trial lift [1926.550(g)(5)(i)], (2) a pre-lift meeting [1926.550(g)(8)(i)], and (3) a boom angle indicator [1926.550(g)(3)(ii)(A)].

Again, it is not the purpose of this standard to provide assistance in expanding the use of personnel hoisting devices or to indicate that the practice is looked upon favorably. The hoisting of personnel using cranes or derricks is generally recognized as an inherently hazardous operation. The standard simply recognizes the fact that if no other method is available or safer; then under certain circumstances, personnel platforms may be used. Compliance officers will request that proof be presented that supports the necessity of using personnel platforms.

If this office can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact us.


Gerald P. Reidy, Director
[Directorate of Construction]

[Correction 10/28/03]