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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

December 20, 1996

Mr. Mike Aulton
Safety Coordinator
Pacific Erectors, Inc.
P.O. Box 8
Auburn, WA 98071

Dear Mr. Aulton:

Thank you for your letter of October 2, requesting an OSHA interpretation on the practice of multiple lift rigging (christmas treeing) of steel members.

On June 30, 1993, OSHA published a Federal Register notice (58 FR 35067) incorporating certain general industry standards into the construction standards. In this notice, OSHA attempted to clarify the issue of employee exposure to overhead loads. The general industry provision §1910.184(c)(9), which was codified as §1926.550(a)(19), reads "[a]ll employees shall be kept clear of loads about to be lifted and of suspended loads." We now believe, however, that it is doubtful that this provision can be applied to crawler, truck or locomotive cranes used for construction activities in view of the more specific rule §1926.550(b), entitled "Crawler, locomotive, and truck cranes." Paragraph 5-3.2.3f states "[t]he operator should avoid carrying loads over people." "Should" requirements are considered advisory and not enforceable by OSHA.

[This document was edited on 1/12/2000, per Federal Register #:63:33450-33469, June 18, 1998, and no longer reflects OSHA's policy for the issue.]

Consequently, except for §1926.701(e)(2) which addresses concrete buckets and §1926.651(e) which addresses loads handled by lifting or digging equipment, there is no OSHA standard that prohibits using crawler, truck or locomotive cranes to suspend loads over employees.

Your letter also inquired about whether OSHA would allow a contractor to christmas tree steel if the criteria listed in an memorandum by Charles Culver dated September 9, 1995, were met. As you know, OSHA is currently in the process of revising its steel erection standard. The Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (SENRAC) has developed recommendations to OSHA that also include criteria for safely performing christmas treeing. Both the Culver memorandum and the SENRAC document set forth acceptable guidelines for safely performing a christmas treeing operation.

It should be noted, however, that performing christmas treeing in a manner or under circumstances that would be widely recognized as dangerous and could endanger employees could result in a citation under the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act.

If you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again by writing to :



                   Directorate of Construction-OSHA
                   Office of Construction Standard
                     and Compliance Assistance
                   Room M3621
                   200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
                   Washington, D.C. 20210

Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction