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 23, 2004

Mr. Donald W Shelafo
International Union of Operating Engineers
P.O. BOX 40008
990 Kalamath Street
Denver, Colorado 80204-0008

Re: If the manufacturer's identification number tag is missing on a lattice boom section and that tag cannot be replaced, nor can the boom section's identity be confirmed, will the identification, inspection, and marking of the boom section by an independent inspector meet the requirements of §1926.550?

Dear Mr. Shelafo:

This is in response to your letter dated October 8, 2003, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You ask for clarification of a requirement in the crane standard, §1926.550, Cranes Derricks, Hoists, Elevators, and Conveyors. We apologize for the delay in responding.

We have paraphrased your question as follows:

Question: Scenario: the manufacturer's identification number tag is missing on a lattice boom section. A replacement tag cannot be obtained from the manufacturer because it is no longer in business. Similarly, the boom section's identity cannot be confirmed. In this situation, I would have an independent inspector: certify that the boom is in serviceable condition; mark the boom to indicate its size, manufacturer, and crane model with which the boom is to be used; and provide documentation to show the date of inspection, method of identification, the crane model, and serial number with which the boom is to be used. Would this meet OSHA requirements?

Your question raises two issues: (1) requirements regarding the identification and use of booms sections, and (2) the inspection of crane components for defects.

Identification/Use Requirements
Section 1926.550(b)(2) requires that:

All crawler, truck, or locomotive cranes in use shall meet the applicable requirements for design, inspection, construction, testing, maintenance and operation as prescribed in ANSI B30.5-1968.

The referenced standard, ANSI B30.5, contains section, which requires that:

Booms, boom sections, and jibs shall be clearly identified and shall be used only for the purposes recommended by the manufacturer.

Where the original, manufacturer-supplied identifications are missing and the manufacturer is unavailable, the identification must be done by an individual who is capable of doing this work. Similarly, if the manufacturer recommendations regarding the use of these components are unknown and unavailable from the manufacturer, an individual who is capable of making such determinations must be used. A registered professional engineer familiar with crane design would have such qualifications.

Inspection Requirements
Depending upon the type of crane used, it must be inspected in accordance with applicable consensus standards and/or manufacturer's instructions as indicated in §1926.550(b)-(f).

Section 1926.550(a) requires a competent person to inspect the crane annually, prior to each use, and during use. It states:

(5) The employer shall designate a competent person who shall inspect all machinery and equipment prior to each use, and during use, to make sure it is in safe operating condition. Any deficiencies shall be repaired, or defective parts replaced, before continued use.
(6) A thorough annual inspection of the hoisting machinery shall be made by a competent person, or by a government or private agency recognized by the US Department of Labor. The employer shall maintain a record of the dates and results of inspections for each hoisting machine and piece of equipment.

Section 1926.32 defines a competent person as:

...one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

The individual that does the inspection must meet this test. Note that the mere fact that the individual is "independent" would not be sufficient -- the inspector must have the requisite technical knowledge to do a competent inspection.

If you need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us by fax (202-693-1689) at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, [Office of Construction Standards and Compliance Guidance]. 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