Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.179(b)(6)(i)


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.


April 6, 2001

Mr. Kirk Haverland, Regional Manager
Larson Engineering of Wisconsin
1500 North Casaloma Drive, Suite 302
Appleton, Wisconsin 54913-8219

Dear Mr. Haverland:

Thank you for your January 23, 2001 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations's (OSHA's) [Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP)]. The letter was originally sent by Mr. Kevin Dorner, formerly with your company. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question or scenario not delineated within your original correspondence. You had a question regarding 29 CFR 1910.179, Overhead and Gantry Cranes, specifically inquiring about OSHA's two inch lateral clearance requirement for overhead bridge cranes, 29 CFR 1910.179(b)(6)(i).

Background: You state that your client's facility has a configuration such that due to foundation settlement, columns which support overhead bridge crane rails are not plumb. As a result crane rails which are supported by these columns are misaligned. This misalignment has resulted in the crane rail having greater than two inches of clearance on one side of the columns and less than two inches of clearance on the opposite side of the columns. You have recommended to your client to fix the foundations which have settled and to plumb the columns in question. However, you still have compliance concerns given the fact that the original two inch design clearance would not provide for error or construction tolerances even if your client followed your recommendation.

Question: If our client cannot meet and maintain the two inch clearance requirement specified in OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.179(b)(6)(i), could our client request a variance from this particular standard?

As you correctly stated ("..building was originally designed with only 2 inches of lateral clearance from the outside edge of the bridge crane to the building columns, there is no room for error and construction tolerances"), OSHA's standard 29 CFR 1910.179(b)(6)(i) does require that two inches of lateral clearance be provided. Further, this standard requires that the two inch clearance be maintained ( "...be provided and maintained between crane and obstructions..." [29 CFR 1910.179(b)(6)(i)]).

OSHA considers the two inch clearance requirement for 29 CFR 1910.179(b)(6)(i) to be a minimum distance. If your client cannot meet and maintain the specified clearance it would be in violation of the standard.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 grants the agency the discretion to grant an employer an exemption to OSHA regulations in certain instances. Variances are granted in three forms: temporary, permanent, and for reasons of national defense (29 U.S.C. 655(b)(6)(A), 655(d) and 655). Your client would probably be interested in obtaining a permanent variance.

To qualify for a permanent variance, the employer must prove that alternative practices or equipment will provide a work environment which is as safe and healthful as one in compliance with the standard. The variance, if granted, is narrow in scope and will specify the conditions the employer must meet and/or the alternative practices it must adopt to receive such protection. OSHA has published specific agency rules and procedures for applying for a variance from a regulation in the Federal Register. These rules can be found at 29 CFR Part 1905.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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.

If you have any further questions related to variances, please feel free to contact OSHA's [Directorate of Science, Technology and Medicine, Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities] at (202) 693-2110. If you have other compliance questions, please contact the [Office of General Industry Enforcement] at (202) 693-1850.

Sincerely,


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]


[Corrected 5/28/2004]



Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents