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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

April 25, 2001

Sheldon J. Gross
Manager, FAA Eastern Region
ANI 200
One Aviation Plaza Jamaica, New York 11434

Re: §1926.550(g)(2); §1926.753(a)(4); towers, personnel hoists; hoisting.

Dear Mr. Gross:

This is in response to your November 15, 2000, letter in which you asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) several questions pertaining to the application of our compliance directive, OSHA Instruction CPL 2-1.29, Interim Inspection Procedures During Communication Tower Construction Activities.

Question 1: Does CPL 2-1.29, Interim Inspection Procedures During Communication Tower Construction Activities, apply to buildings designed to house communications workers, operations and equipment?

Answer: No. The term "communications towers" in the directive refers only to open-lattice steel towers designed to support communications antennae. In the "Background" section of the directive, we stated:

Accessing towers by the use of fixed ladders with attached climbing devices has been the preferred method as it provides conventional fall protection during ascent and descent of the structure. Some representatives of the tower construction industry assert that continual climbing of high towers is physically demanding and can lead to stress and medical ailments...[emphasis added]



The "tower construction industry" refers to the industry that is in the business of erecting open lattice communication towers. It is on such structures that "fixed ladders with attached climbing devices" have traditionally been the preferred method of ascending and descending the structure.

The 26-story structure you describe is being constructed of a steel skeleton that will be enclosed by precast concrete panels. The completed building will house a stairway, elevator, cable rooms, offices, break rooms, locker rooms, and a number of equipment rooms housing HVAC, RADAR, and communication equipment.

The tower construction industry does not erect this type of building structure. Furthermore, fixed ladders and climbing devices have never been the preferred method of ascending and descending such structures — they are instead ascended and descended by internal stairways and elevators.

Question 2: Can an employer use a crane-hoisted personnel platform to provide employees access to the work area?

Answer: This and your remaining questions hinge upon the question answered above. Since CPL 2-1.29 does not apply, employers must follow the requirements in the steel erection standard, 29 CFR 1926.750. We expect to issue a compliance directive allowing an employer to comply with either the current steel erection standard or the new steel erection standard as printed in the January 18, 2001 Federal Register. The current standard prohibits the use of crane-suspended personnel platforms to access work areas except where the use of conventional means (such as stairs, elevators, scaffolds, aerial lifts, etc.) to access the work area would be more hazardous.

We anticipate that, under the new directive, an employer may choose to comply with the new steel erection standard as long as all the requirements of the standard are met. Section 1926.753(a)(4) of the new steel erection standard allows for the use of personnel platforms during steel erection activities where all other criteria of §1926.550(g), Cranes and Derricks, are met (except §1926.550(g)(2), which is the paragraph that prohibits the use of crane-suspended personnel platforms).

If you need additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction

[Corrected 6/2/2005]