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.

February 9, 2004

Jeff Moser
Director of Corporate Safety, Training & Education
170 Pheasant Run
Newtown, PA 18940

Re: §1926.251 - whether special test weights must be used for load tests; applicability of ASME inspection standards; whether manufactured (i.e., non-custom) lifting devices must be marked.

Dear Mr. Moser:

This is in response to your fax of August 1, 2003, and follow-up conversations you have had with my staff regarding 29 CFR 1926.251(a)(4) (lifting accessories). I apologize for the delay in providing a response.

We have paraphrased your questions as follows:

Question (1): Section 1926.251(a)(4) requires that special custom design grabs, hooks, clamps or other lifting accessories be proof-tested prior to use. A voluntary industry consensus standard, ASME B30.20, states that load tests "should" be performed. For purposes of OSHA compliance, does §1926.251(a)(4) supersede the ASME requirement?

Yes. The OSHA requirements regarding proof-testing special custom design grabs, hooks, clamps or other lifting accessories are governed by 29 CFR 1926.251(a)(4), not the ASME B30.20 standard. Section 1926.251(a)(4) states:

Special custom design grabs, hooks, clamps, or other lifting accessories, for such units as modular panels, prefabricated structures and similar materials... shall be proof-tested prior to use to 125 percent of their rated load. [Emphasis added.]

Further, §1926.32 provides certain definitions which are used in the application of Part 1926 regulations. Specifically, §1926.32(q) states:

Shall means mandatory.

Therefore, the requirement that special custom-design grabs, hooks, clamps or other lifting accessories be proof-tested prior to use is mandatory, and failure to comply is a violation of OSHA requirements.

Question (2): Other than for slings, it appears that there are no inspection criteria for below-the-hook lifting devices in the OSHA regulations. Would I be in compliance with OSHA requirements if I followed ASME B30.20 for inspections of below-the-hook lifting devices?

Yes. Section 1926.251 does not address inspection criteria for below-the-hook lifting devices, except for slings used in conjunction with other material handling equipment.

Under the "General Duty Clause" (Section 5(a)(1)) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers must:

furnish to each of [its] employees employment... free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm...

The construction industry recognizes the necessity for inspections of below-the-hook lifting devices. An employer who follows ASME B.30.20, specifically sections 20-1.3.1 through 20-1.3.7 and 20-1.3.9 with respect to inspections for below-the-hook lifting devices (other than for slings), would be considered to be in compliance with OSHA requirements.

Question (3)(a): What is necessary to meet the proof-test requirements of §1926.251(a)(4) — are we required to use specialized/certified weights when doing the proof-testing?

Section 1926.251(a)(4) requires that:

special custom design grabs, hooks...or other lifting accessories. . .be marked to indicate the safe working loads and shall be proof-tested prior to use to 125 percent of their rated load.

The standard does not specify any particular means of determining the weight of the load being tested. Therefore, any method that can be reasonably expected to yield sufficiently accurate and reliable data to establish the weight of the load may be used for the proof-test. For example, where an employer intends to use I-beams for the test load, a weight calculation based on measurements of the I-beam's dimensions and application of those measurements to manufacturer or published I-beam weight tables would be acceptable.

In contrast, use of a generator as a test weight would be unacceptable if its weight was determined by "guesstimate" (although the generator would be acceptable if its weight was ascertained from the manufacturer).

In sum, although use of specialized or certified test weights is not required, the weight of the test load must be determined through accurate and reliable means.

Question (3)(b): Where manufactured (not custom-designed) I-beams with shackles (lifting beams) are not load marked, are we required to proof-test and mark them?

No. Section 1926.251(a)(4) applies to "special custom[-]design grabs, hooks, clamps or other lifting accessories." Therefore, it does not require manufactured lifting beams - that is, lifting beams that are not custom-designed - to be proof-tested and/or marked.

Note that we have included copies of our letters to
Mr. Cole (July 7, 2003), Mr. Wagester (February 25, 2003), and Mr. Pancari (dated May 15, 2002) [dated June 14, 2002], which include discussions on the issues you raised.

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


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction

Corrected on 01/25/2006