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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

June 9, 1992

The Honorable J. Bennett Johnston
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510-1802

Dear Senator Johnston:

Thank you for your letter of April 24 in which you requested information about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) policy addressing the need for holding brakes on hydraulic cranes.

Although OSHA's construction regulations at 29 CFR 1926.550(b)(2) require all crawler and truck cranes to meet the requirements in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard B30.5- 1968, that standard does not specifically address hydraulic boom cranes. However, in 1973 and 1988, rules were developed by ANSI to address hydraulic boom cranes and those rules can be cited by OSHA under paragraph (5)(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety And Health Act (OSH Act), which requires that each employer provide a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious harm to his/her employees. One of those rules requires a positive means be provided (Controllable from the operator's station) to hold the hoist drum from rotating in the lowering direction, and that it be capable of holding the rated load indefinitely without further attention from the operator. In addition, OSHA has the specific requirement at 29 CFR 1926.550(g)(3)(i)(C) that load and boom hoist drum brakes be engaged when an occupied personnel platform on the crane is in a stationary position.

In regard to your specific question of who is responsible for maintaining the proper working order of holding brakes on cranes, please be advised that the employer using the crane. Although the equipment may be leased from a third party, the employer who rents the equipment has the responsibility to ensure the crane is in proper operating condition.

With respect to your question on liability should there be an accident, each employer is primarily responsible for the safety of his/her employees. On a construction site, if one employer's employees are endangered by the use of a piece of equipment over which that employer has no control, it is that employer's responsibility to work through the general contractor to establish and maintain a safe workplace for all employees. If an employer has his/her employees exposed to a hazard, then that employer is responsible for their safety under the OSH Act (liability in tort is a matter of state law).

With respect to safety alerts, OSHA does have the authority and means to issue such notices. The Agency has issued hazard alerts in the past on a variety of topics. However, at this time, the Agency is not aware of the need to issue one on the topics discussed above.

In regard to your question about the procedures used to ensure that OSHA's standards are enforced, please be advised that OSHA conducts inspections of construction work sites. During such inspections, if cranes are present, they may be inspected by the compliance officer for compliance with the appropriate regulations. Between such inspections, 29 CFR 1926.550(a)(5) requires the employer to designate a competent person to "inspect all crane machinery and equipment prior to each use, and during use, to make sure it is in safe operating condition. Any deficiencies shall be repaired, or defective parts replaced, before continued use."

If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again.


Dorothy L. Strunk
Acting Assistant Secretary