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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

March 3, 1992

Mr. Richard F. Hoffman President
McLean Contracting Company
6700 McLean Way Glen
Burnie, Maryland 21060-6480

Dear Mr. Hoffman:

This is a follow-up response to our December 6, 1991 letter sent in reply to your September 26, 1991 inquiry. In your letter you requested the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) opinion on certain aspects of 29 CFR 1926.550(g) relating to the use of personnel platforms suspended from cranes and derricks.

A recent review of our December 6 letter reveals the possibility that the policy expressed therein could be misinterpreted. In order to preclude any such misunderstanding, the following additional points need to be listed:

It is OSHA's position that employee safety, rather than practicality or convenience, must be the basis for the use of a crane or derrick to lift personnel. Consequently, the use of crane or derrick suspended personnel platforms (CDSPP) is prohibited except under very limited circumstances. Our December 6 letter is intended only as a concurrence with your approach to determining whether those circumstances exist. It is not an approval of any of the examples or conclusions expressed in your letter.

When determining whether the use of a CDSPP is justified, all relevant factors must be considered. For example, exposure to cardiovascular stress is only one of many factors to be assessed when making this decision. Another factor is whether or not other personnel are available to do the work. However, assuming for the sake of argument, that a particular employee has been thoroughly examined by a physician and a determination made by the physician that the employee should use a CDSPP because of cardiovascular risk, all other employees would still be required to use conventional means of access, such as stairs, thus minimizing the exposure to the hazards of using a CDSPP.

In order to make a determination of the risk of exposure to cardiovascular stress, the physician must examine each individual employee. Only those found to be at risk would be allowed to use a CDSPP (assuming, as stated above, those individuals are needed to perform the task). The physician must be given complete and detailed information on the anticipated stress including, but not limited to, the number of steps, rate of ascent, frequency of ascent, weight of equipment, and any other factors the physician may deem necessary for a complete evaluation.

Even if the examining physician determines that a particular employee would be subject to cardiovascular stress, the employer must consider whether reasonable changes can be made that will avoid the risk. For example, equipment can be hoisted rather than carried. Pre-planning and modification of work schedules can possibly reduce the number of ascents which an employee must make.

Employers must endeavor to utilize employees who are not likely to be exposed to excessive risk of cardiovascular stress while accessing elevated work platforms only when the means of access poses such a threat. The use of an elevator, for example, would not require such a policy. However, this policy should not be used to require the hiring of new or replacement employees. On the other hand, employers should anticipate the need for climbing in their work when hiring new employees (including arrangements with hiring halls).

We apologize for not including the above information in our earlier letter, but we are confident that, given your stated concerns at the September 18, 1991 meeting, these are obvious points already understood by your company.

If you have any questions, please contact Roy F. Gurnham or Mr. Dale R. Cavanaugh of my staff in the Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance Assistance at (202) 523-8136.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs


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.