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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

December 8, 2003

Mr. Gregory R. Teslia
Crane Safety & Inspections, Inc.
P.O. Box 670934
Coral Springs, Florida 33067

Re: Whether it is permissible to make modifications or additions to a crane without manufacturer approval (where the manufacturer is still in existence)?

Dear Mr. Teslia:

This is in response to your letter dated June 12, 2003, to the Atlanta Regional Office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and your subsequent request to that office for clarification of their response. Your original letter questioned requirements in 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart N pertaining to modification of cranes. Your request for clarification narrowed your inquiry to crane modifications where the manufacturer is still in existence. Your initial letter, the Regional Office's response, and your request for clarification were forwarded to this office for handling on July 25, 2003. This response supersedes the prior Regional Office response dated June 12, 2003.

We have paraphrased your question as follows:

Question: I am aware of several OSHA standards pertaining to the operation and modification of their cranes (29 CFR 1926.550(a)(1) and (a)(16)). Is an employer engaged in construction permitted to modify a crane or make modifications to the operational specifications of a crane without manufacturer approval (or to override a manufacturer's decision to deny the request)?

In 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart N (Cranes, Derricks, Hoists, Elevators, and Conveyors), §1926.550(a)(1) sets forth requirements regarding modification of operational specifications for cranes and derricks:

The employer shall comply with the manufacturer's specifications and limitations applicable to the operation of any and all cranes and derricks. Where manufacturer's specifications are not available, the limitations assigned to the equipment shall be based on the determinations of a qualified engineer competent in this field and such determinations will be appropriately documented and recorded. * * *

Section 1926.550(a)(16) addresses modifications or additions to cranes and derricks:

No modifications or additions which affect the capacity or safe operation of the equipment shall be made by the employer without the manufacturer's written approval. * * *

By its terms, Subpart N addresses changes to operational specifications for cranes separately from modifications or changes to the crane itself.

Operational specifications
Under §1926.550(a)(1), an employer must comply with a manufacturer's operational specifications for cranes. However, the standard sets forth an exception when a manufacturer's specifications are not available. In that instance only, an employer may rely upon limitations assigned to a crane by "a qualified engineer competent in this field." Those specifications must be documented.

Crane modifications
Section 1926.550(a)(16) governs employer modifications or additions to cranes. The provision prohibits an employer from making any modifications or additions to a crane that affect the safe operation or capacity of the equipment unless prior permission to do so is received from the manufacturer.

You indicated in your telephone conversation with Audrey Rollor of this office that your primary concern was the ability of an employer to modify or change a crane where a manufacturer was still in existence.1 In the case of both modifications and operational specifications, where the manufacturer is in existence, reviews the technical merits of the application for approval and denies the application, the employer must abide by that decision - the standard does not permit the employer to override the denial by obtaining approval from a qualified engineer.

Note that we are currently engaged in a negotiated rulemaking on revising the cranes and derricks portion of Subpart N. The question you have asked us is one of the issues currently being discussed in the rulemaking. If you would like to submit comments to the negotiated rulemaking committee, you may submit them as follows:

Written comments to the Committee may be submitted in any of three ways: by mail, by fax, or by email. Please include "Docket No. S-030" on all submissions.

  • By mail, submit three (3) copies to: OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. S-030, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room N-2625, Washington, DC 20210, telephone (202) 693-2350. Note that receipt of comments submitted by mail may be delayed by several weeks.
  • By fax, written comments that are 10 pages or fewer may be transmitted to the OSHA Docket Office at fax number (202) 693-1648.
  • Electronically, comments may be submitted through OSHA's Webpage at http://ecomments.osha.gov. Please note that you may not attach materials such as studies or journal articles to your electronic comments. If you wish to include such materials, you must submit three copies to the OSHA Docket Office at the address listed above. When submitting such materials to the OSHA Docket Office, clearly identify your electronic comments by name, date, subject, and Docket Number, so that we can attach the materials to your electronic comments.

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

1 If you have other specific scenarios that you would like us to address, please let us know. [ back to text ]