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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

February 27, 1992

Mr. Jefferson L. Thomas
Operations Manager
Husky Terminal & Stevedoring, Inc.
710 Port of Tacoma Road
Terminal 7-D
Tacoma, Washington 98421

Dear Mr. Thomas:

The following information is in response to your letter of January 7, 1992 to Mr. James W. Lake, Regional Administrator, concerning the handling of overloaded inbound containers. We would like to commend you for the way you handled the incident described in your letter and thank you for your interest in safety.

We realize that you are sometimes faced with highly unusual situations that make compliance with the regulations difficult or impossible. In the situation of discovering an overloaded inbound container that effects the discharge of other inbound containers, we would consider that to be an emergency situation and would allow the container to be hoisted if there is no safe feasible means to lighten the load. This situation is similar to the discovery of a damaged inbound container on the vessel prior to discharge and should be handled as described in 29 CFR 1918.85(d) which states, "any inbound container found to have such a defect shall either be discharged by such special means as to insure safety or shall be emptied before discharge." The procedures you outlined in your letter meet the intent of this provision, providing that the container does not exceed the cranes capacity and that all personnel that could be adversely affected by a mishap are removed from the area.

Concerning your specific questions, OSHA does not require a permit for this operation. A thorough inspection by a marine surveyor would be a prudent safety measure. OSHA notification is not required.

We appreciate your interest in safety matters and hope our response proves to be useful.


Roy F. Gurnham, Esq., P.E. Director
Office of Construction and Maritime
Compliance Assistance