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.

January 25, 2006

Mr. Frank Gencarelli
Chairman
Nycon International, Inc.
101 Cross Street
Westerly, RI 02891

Re: OSHA requirements applicable to use of the Contex "Magic Arm" below-the-hook lifting device.

Dear Mr. Gencarelli:

This is in response to your letter dated July 15, 2005, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding your "Contex Arm (Magic Arm)" lifting device ("Magic Arm"). We apologize for the delay in responding.

Illustration of the Magic Arm

internal mechanism of the Magic Arm

Drawing showing internal mechanism

Magic Arm in use

The device in use

We have paraphrased your question as follows:

Question: The Magic Arm is a below-the-hook lifting device that allows a crane to deliver a load to an area beneath a floor (see pictures above). What OSHA requirements, if any, apply to the use of such a device?1

Answer: OSHA is generally precluded from approving or endorsing specific products. The variable working conditions at jobsites and possible alteration or misapplication of an otherwise safe piece of equipment could easily create a hazardous condition beyond the control of the manufacturer. However, where appropriate, we try to give some guidance to help employers assess whether products are appropriate to use in light of OSHA requirements.

First, there are a number of OSHA construction standards that are applicable when hoisting materials. These include 29 CFR 1926.1400 , which contains requirements applicable to the use of cranes and derricks, and §1926.753 (hoisting and rigging requirements for steel erection work). Also, there are general requirements regarding training and informing employees about the hazards associated with the use of equipment; see 1926.20(b) (accident prevention responsibilities) and §1926.21(b)(2) (training on unsafe conditions).

29 CFR 1926.251, Rigging equipment for material handling, states:

(a) General. (1) Rigging equipment for material handling shall be inspected prior to use on each shift and as necessary during its use to ensure that it is safe. Defective rigging equipment shall be removed from service.
****

This provision, which addresses the hazard of using equipment that is not in proper condition, requires that employers using the Magic Arm as rigging equipment for performing material handling work must ensure that the device is inspected prior to use on each shift and as necessary during use to ensure that it is safe; if a safety problem is found, the employer must ensure that it is removed from service.

While §1926.251(a)(1) addresses improper equipment condition, other hazards may be involved in the use of a device such as the Magic Arm. Note that section 5(a)(1) ("General Duty Clause") of the Occupational Safety and Health Act states that each employer:

shall furnish to each of his [or her] employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his [or her] employees.

Due to the broad range of scenarios in which the Magic Arm may be used, we cannot comment on what specific precautions may be required under the General Duty clause.2

If you need any 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.

Sincerely,

 

Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction


1 You also asked OSHA to endorse this product. As explained in our answer to your other question, OSHA does not issue product endorsements. [ back to text ]

2 We recommend that you consult the ASME B30.20a-2001 Addenda to ASME B30.20-1999, an industry consensus standard covering the use of below-the-hook lifting devices. This voluntary standard indicates industry recognition of a number of potential hazards associated with the use of various below-the-hook lifting devices. [ back to text ]

Amended: November 17, 2014