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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 https://www.osha.gov.
May 6, 2019
Michael Mason, Senior SHE Manager
Balfour Beatty Construction
387 South 33rd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Dear Mr. Mason:
Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in which you asked questions about hoisting materials.
More specifically, you provided two rigging scenarios for hoisting different materials and asked if such lifts are permissible under 29 CFR 1926.753(e) or 29 CFR 1926.251. The scenarios you provided are as follows:
A contractor is using a multiple lift rigging assembly to hoist multiple bundles of reinforcing steel. The bundles are rigged in accordance with the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.753(e).
A contractor is using different length slings to hoist multiple items (e.g., two portable toilets or two gangboxes, etc.) using rigging in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions and 29 CFR 1926.251.
In the scenarios you provided, the materials must be rigged in accordance with §1926.251 – Rigging equipment for material handling. The 2010 Cranes and Derricks final rule addresses employee exposure to hoisted loads. If the hoisting is conducted using equipment covered by OSHA's cranes and derricks in construction standard (see 29 CFR 1926.1400 et. sec.), the hoisting must comply with all of the provisions of that standard, including §1926.1425 – Keeping clear of the load. OSHA requires a qualified rigger whenever workers are within the fall zone and hooking, unhooking, or guiding a load, or doing the initial connection of a load to a component or structure (§1926.1425(c)). Further, OSHA defines a qualified rigger as a rigger who meets the criteria for a qualified person (§1926.1401).
The provisions of 29 CFR 1926.753(e) do not apply to either of the above scenarios since reinforcing steel bundles and multiple portable toilets and/or gangboxes are not structural members (see 1926.753(e)(1)(iii)).
The 2001 Steel Erection final rule recognized multiple lifts of structural members as a potentially hazardous activity and prescribed specific procedures for safely performing these lifts. The term, "multiple lift rigging" is a specific term used in section 29 CFR 1926.753, which governs hoisting for steel erection. Under that section, one of the criteria of a multiple lift procedure is that only beams and similar structural members can be lifted (§1926.753(e)(1)(iii)) [emphasis added]. Structural steel is defined in §1926.751 as:
a steel member, or a member made of a substitute material (such as, but not limited to, fiberglass, aluminum or composite members). These members include, but are not limited to, steel joists, joist girders, purlins, columns, beams, trusses, splices, seats, metal decking, girts, and all bridging, and cold formed metal framing which is integrated with the structural steel framing of a building.
You also implied that some employers may not allow you to lift multiple items at the same time on their projects. Please be aware that OSHA standards set minimum safety and health requirements; these Standards do not prohibit employers from adopting more stringent requirements.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. 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 assure 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.
Scott Ketcham, Acting Director
Directorate of Construction