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• Standard Number: 1926.550(a)(19)

October 21, 1999

Ms. Yvonne Horton
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
P.O. Box 2008
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6103

RE: 29 CFR 1926.550(a)(19)

Dear Ms. Horton:

This is in response to your April 15, 1999, letter in which you ask a question relating the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.550 (Cranes, Derricks, Hoists, Elevators and Conveyors) with respect to employees working near or under suspended loads.

Question 1: Under what circumstances may employees guide a suspended load by placing their hands on it? Is it permissible for employees to place their hands on a load that is seven feet high if they stand to the side of, and not under, the load?

Answer: Employees may stand beside a suspended load and guide it into place with their hands when, in view of the height of the load, actual and potential swing of the load and trip hazards, the employees are not at risk of being struck by the load if it were to fall.

29 CFR 1926.550(a)(19) states "All employees shall be kept clear of loads about to be lifted and of suspended loads." When employees are guiding suspended loads into place, employees can get near the load and assist in guiding the load in, but at no time shall the employee be at risk of being struck by the load if it were to fall or swing out of control. If an employee needs to guide a load that is being lowered, but the load is at a height that would place the employee at risk of becoming off balance while reaching for the load, tripping and falling under it, or is otherwise at risk of being struck by the load if it were to fall or swing out of control, the employee must use tag lines or other means to guide it. An employee may stand aside a load that is seven feet high and guide it with his or her hands only where these risk factors are absent.

Question 2: Does the standard permit employees to put their hands under a raised load to place blocks?

Answer: When it is infeasible for an employee to keep his or her hands out from under a raised load while placing block under it, the employer shall ensure that the load is not released until the employee's hands are removed from under the load.

If blocks need to be placed under a suspended load, and conditions exist that prevent the employer from using blocks long enough to allow employees to keep their hands out from under the load, employees may, using appropriate care, place their hands under the load to set the blocks. When using crawler, truck and locomotive cranes, Section 5-3.3 (Signals) of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) B30.5-1968, which is incorporated into the OSHA standard by §1926.550 (b)(2), requires that the crane operator not release or lower the load further until the operator receives a signal to do so. ANSI signal requirements for other types of cranes are incorporated by §1926.550 (a)(4). At no time shall an employee place their hands under a load that is being lowered.

If you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again by writing to: Directorate of Construction - OSHA Office of Construction Standard and Compliance Assistance, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington D.C. 20210.

Sincerely,

Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction


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