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.

November 8, 1996

Mr. John R. Molovich
United Steelworkers of America
Five Gateway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Dear Mr. Molovich:

This is a follow-up letter to our September 25 letter which was in response to your September 19 letter regarding the issue of holding brake requirements on overhead cranes (29 CFR 1910.179 (f)(2)(iii)). Both our Chicago Regional Office and Cleveland Area Office have provided additional information not addressed by our September 25 letter. We are proceeding to research this new information further.

Our understanding is that both cranes in question were manufactured and installed sometime before August 31, 1971. Therefore, these cranes may be excepted from meeting the design specifications of the American National Standards Institute standard, ANSI B30.2.0-1967, required under paragraph 1910.179(b)(2). Our Cleveland Area Office is gathering more information on this consideration. If a determination is made that the cranes in question are "grandfathered," Section 5(a)(1), that is, the General Duty Clause, of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, possibly, still may be invoked. However, legal requirements to support a General Duty Clause citation can be quite rigorous. Whether citation under the General Duty clause will be pursued depends on the sufficiency of information obtained.

After a thorough discussion with the Cleveland Area Office regarding the specifications and operations of the hoists and holding brakes on these cranes, we are reconsidering the intent of the l910.179 standard (and by extension, the national consensus standard on which it is based) with respect to the use of these cranes in the workplace. Specifically, we have requested by letter (a copy of which is enclosed for your use) that ANSI clarify whether the word "removed" under paragraph 21.12.2 of the ANSI B30.2.0-1967 standard includes loss of power not only to the load hoist motor circuit but also to the control circuit. We have been advised that an ANSI response to our request for clarification pend full ANSI Committee consideration at their next meeting scheduled early this December.

We intend to resolve this matter as quickly as possible to assist your efforts to ensure a safe and health workplace. Your continued support of employee safety and health is appreciated. Please direct further communications on this matter to our Chicago Regional Office, Mr. Bill Wiehrdt, telephone (312) 353-2220.


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs

October 7, 1996

Mr. Joseph Pang
345 East 47th Street
New York, New York 10017-2392

Dear Mr. Pang:

The purpose of this letter is to seek clarification of the American National Standards Institute/American Society of Mechanical Engineers standard ANSI/ASME B30.2-1983 Overhead and Gantry Cranes. Of particular interest is the intended meaning of the word "removed" as used in the following provision of the aforementioned standard:


Section 2-2 - Brakes


2-1.12.2 Hoist Holding Brakes


(C) Holding brakes on hoists shall be applied automatically when power to the brake is removed.

This requirement has remained unchanged dating back to ANSI B30.2.0-1967 which was the source standard for 29 CFR 1910.179 Overhead and gantry cranes.

Power to the holding brakes is "removed" when the operator centers the controller, that is, places the controls in the neutral or stop position. Does the word "removed" include loss of power not only to the load (hoist motor) circuit but also to the control circuit.

We would appreciate your response as soon as possible. As discussed in the October 3 telecon between you and Mr. Ronald J. Davies of my staff, you indicated that the earliest ASME could respond was the beginning of this December. If you have questions about this request, please contact the Office of Safety Compliance Assistance, Mr. Ronald J. Davies, telephone (202) 219 8031, extension 110.


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs