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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

March 20, 1996>

The Honorable Robert C. Byrd
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510-6025

Dear Senator Byrd:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on behalf of [name withheld] concerning the unfortunate death of her son in a crane-related powerline accident.

Please be advised that Federal OSHA already regulates the operation of cranes near powerlines. A copy of the regulations is enclosed. As you can see, although the regulations recognize the availability of cage-type boom guards, insulating links, and other equipment intended for crane/powerline operations, the regulations do not recognize the use of such equipment as a substitute for keeping the crane away from energized powerlines, nor as a substitute for a clearance observer in those situations where the crane must be operated near energized powerlines.

As [name withheld] points out in her letter, Federal OSHA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in October of 1992 to determine whether or not the existing standards have prevented OSHA from developing and issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The public record for the project remains open, however, and [name withheld] comments have been forwarded to the Office of Construction Standards and Compliance Assistance for inclusion into that record. When it becomes possible to finish developing a new rule, [name withheld] comments will be fully considered.

As you may know, the State of Maryland is responsible for the enforcement of its own occupational safety and health standards under authority granted by Federal OSHA. Under such state plans, the regulations to be enforced must be at least as effective as federal standards. As [name withheld] son was working in Frederick, Maryland at the time of his death, she may wish to contact Maryland OSHA officials at (410) 333-4179.

Again, thank you for writing. Should you have any further questions, please contact Mr. Russell B. Swanson, Director, Directorate of Construction at (202) 219-8644.


Joseph A. Dear
Assistant Secretary