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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 27, 2016
Mr. Robert F. Helminiak
Director, Regulatory Affairs
National Propane Gas Association
1899 L Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20036
Re: Cranes; 29 CFR 1926.1400(c)(17); delivery; Propane gas; articulating/knuckle-boom cranes
Dear Mr. Helminiak:
Thank you for your February 1, 2013, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In your letter, you ask OSHA to confirm your understanding of the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard as it applies to articulating/knuckle-boom truck cranes. The questions in your request for interpretation have been paraphrased as follows.
Q# 1: Section 1926.1400(c)(17)(i) states that when articulating/knuckle-boom truck cranes (truck cranes) are used to transfer materials from the truck crane to the ground, without arranging the materials in a particular sequence for hoisting, this activity would not be considered construction and therefore requirements of 29 CFR Part 1926 do not apply. Does this exemption include the delivery of propane containers?
Yes, OSHA included this exemption in the regulatory text of the cranes standard to clarify that OSHA’s enforcement policy for materials delivered from articulating/knuckle-boom truck cranes is consistent with a broader enforcement policy that applies to materials delivered only to the ground at construction sites using any kind of equipment.
Q# 2: When propane containers are initially delivered by truck cranes to newly constructed structures, particularly containers of 2,000 gallons or less in liquid capacity, they are: lifted to only a height that is sufficient to clear the bed of the truck crane; set on the container’s steel legs on the ground or a concrete pad; and are not hoisted again by the delivery company’s truck crane. In addition, the truck crane operator does not connect the containers to any system nor hold the container in place in support of any further activity, including connecting the containers to a structure (including the concrete pad on which the tanks are set). Is this handling of propane tanks an activity covered by the exclusion described in Q#1?
No. In a prior letter of interpretation, OSHA clarified that the positioning of burial vaults in an excavation (grave) is not a construction activity because the vaults are not part of, nor will be connected to, a system or structure being constructed/installed. Therefore, positioning the vault within the excavation is not essential to facilitate any construction work.1
In contrast, as you described, truck cranes are used to position propane containers in a particular area and orientation on an active construction site to facilitate the initial connection of the containers by another employer to newly constructed/installed propane systems. This activity is similar to positioning precast components in a particular place and orientation within excavations to facilitate connection to, and the construction of, a septic, sewer, or water drainage system by another employer. Subsequently, initially placing propane containers on pads at a construction site as you describe is considered construction and when truck cranes are used for this purpose, employers must comply with requirements of the crane standard.
Please note that 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) is 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.
Jeffrey A. Erskine, Acting Director
Directorate of Construction
1. See February 26, 2013, OSHA interpretation letter issued to Mr. Thomas A. Monahan. This letter and others may be accessed from www.osha.gov.