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.

June 23, 2016

John Kosta
Tiffin Loader Crane
4151 West State Route 18
Tiffin, OH 44883

Dear Mr. Kosta:

Thank you for your November 22, 2010, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in which you ask for an interpretation of the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard. We have paraphrased your question as follows.

Question: I use an articulating knuckle-boom truck crane equipped with an automatic overload prevention device to hoist packaged building materials from the bed of a truck. The building materials are hoisted on pallets supported underneath by forks/a cradle that is attached to the boom of the truck crane. If I hold pallets of building materials, such as 2 X 4’s, plywood, shingles, or drywall, to be unloaded at elevations, like a floor (through an open window or doorway) or the roof of a structure under construction, is this activity covered by the cranes standard?

Answer

Yes, the construction activity you describe is covered by the crane standard. For an articulating knuckle-boom truck crane to be excluded from the requirements of the crane standard, it must either be: (1) used to perform an activity that is not integral to a construction activity or; (2) equipment that it is designed, configured, and used as equipment covered by Subpart O, Motor Vehicles, Mechanized Equipment, and Marine Operations. An articulating knuckle-boom truck crane is considered configured and used like equipment covered by Subpart O only when:

  • its forks/cradle are directly attached to the boom (not suspended from the boom by a load line);
  • it is equipped with a properly functioning automatic overload prevention device; and
  • it is used to deliver sheet goods or packaged material.

It is considered delivery to a construction site, for example, when loads are: hoisted from the bed of a truck and placed on the ground without arranging the materials in any particular sequence for hoisting; or set on an elevated area of a structure (such as a balcony, upper deck, or roof) prior to being unpacked/unloaded from pallets. Under such scenarios, these activities are excluded from the requirements of construction standards specified by 29 CFR Part 1926, and covered by general industry requirements.

Please note, however, even equipment configured as described above is not excluded from the cranes standard when it is used to hold, support, or stabilize building materials at elevated work areas of a structure to facilitate the performance of a construction activity. As you express in your letter, OSHA also acknowledges that using an articulating knuckle-boom truck crane to hoist and hold palletized building materials at elevations for construction workers to unpack/unload may often be a safer work practice than having them unpack and repetitiously carry the materials from the ground up to elevated work areas of a structure. Under this scenario, any workers who unpack/unload the pallets are doing so to facilitate the performance of a construction activity and are likely to be subjected to hazards typical to cranes and the roofs, upper decks, and balconies of structures that are undergoing construction. Subsequently, the workers must be protected from those hazards by the employer’s compliance with construction standards. Therefore, regardless of whether the construction employer operates an articulating knuckle-boom truck crane to hoist and hold the pallets, or that employer gets another employer (such as a delivery company) to do so, the use of the crane for this purpose is considered construction and covered by the cranes standard.

Please also note, however, a consideration of whether a work activity is covered by 29 CFR 1910 (OSHA’s General Industry Standards) or 29 CFR 1926 (OSHA’s Construction standards) would be based on a case-specific factual analysis. An example of some of the factors used to determine whether a work activity is covered under OSHA’s construction standards is discussed in a letter of interpretation that can be accessed from OSHA’s website at: http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=24789.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA's requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our letters of interpretation do not create new or additional requirements but rather explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. From time to time, letters are affected when the Agency updates a standard, a legal decision impacts a standard, or changes in technology affect the interpretation. To ensure that you are using the correct information and guidance, please consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey A. Erskine, Acting Director
Directorate of Construction