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.

October 21, 1999

Ms. Yvonne Horton
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
P.O. Box 2008
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6103

RE: 29 CFR 1926.1425

Dear Ms. Horton:

This is in response to your April 15, 1999, letter in which you ask a question relating the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.1425 (Cranes and Derricks in Construction) with respect to employees working near or under suspended loads.

Question 1: Under what circumstances may employees guide a suspended load by placing their hands on it? Is it permissible for employees to place their hands on a load that is seven feet high if they stand to the side of, and not under, the load?

Answer:

29 CFR 1926.1425(e)(2) states "Only employees essential to the operation are permitted in the fall zone (but not directly under the load)." Essential employees are those employees conducting certain operations, and the employer can demonstrate it is infeasible for the employee to perform the operation from outside the fall zone. Those certain operations are: (1) physically guide the load; (2) closely monitor and give instructions regarding loads movement; or (3) either detach it from or initially attach it to another component or structure (such as, but not limited to, making an initial connection or installing bracing).

Question 2: Does the standard permit employees to put their hands under a raised load to place blocks?

Answer: When it is infeasible for an employee to keep his or her hands out from under a raised load while placing block under it, the employer shall ensure that the load is not released until the employee's hands are removed from under the load.

If blocks need to be placed under a suspended load, and conditions exist that prevent the employer from using blocks long enough to allow employees to keep their hands out from under the load, employees may, using appropriate care, place their hands under the load to set the blocks. 29 CFR 1926.1425(e)(2) allows only employees essential to the operation are permitted in the fall zone (but not directly under the load), and, if the employer can demonstrate it is infeasible for the employee to perform the following activities from outside the fall zone: (1) physically guide the load;(2) closely monitor and give instructions regarding the loads movements; or (3) either detach it from or initially attach it to another component or structure.

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 N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington D.C. 20210.

Sincerely,

James G. Maddux, Director
Directorate of Construction

Amended: June 18, 2014