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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1926.251; 1926.251(a)(4); 1926.251(a)(5)


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.

March 1, 2010

Letter # 20071113-8104

Re: Testing requirements for "lifting blinds" or "lifting covers" on pressure vessels

Question (1): Our company manufactures pressure vessels. We typically use custom-engineered "lifting blinds" or "lifting covers" (referred to collectively as lifting covers) on the top flange of the pressure vessels to enable the lifting contractor in the field to hoist the vessel onto the foundation and anchor bolts.

Section 1926.251(a)(4) says that special custom design lifting accessories must have their capacity marked and be proof-tested. However, the scope provision in §1926.251(a)(5) seems to indicate that those requirements apply only to slings. Is that correct? Do lifting covers also have to be marked and proof tested?

Answer (1): The lifting covers you refer to are required to be marked and proof tested; the scope provision in §1926.251(a)(5) does not exclude lifting covers from the marking and proof testing requirements of §1926.251(a)(4).

29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart H, Materials Handling, Storage, Use and Disposal, contains a number of provisions, including sections 1926.251(a)(4) and (a)(5), which state:

1926.251(a)(4):

Special custom design ... lifting accessories ... shall be marked to indicate the safe working loads and shall be proof-tested prior to use to 125 percent of their rated load.

1926.251(a)(5):

Scope. This section applies to slings used in conjunction with other material handling equipment for the movement of material by hoisting ... The types of slings covered are those made from alloy steel chain, wire rope, metal mesh, natural or synthetic fiber rope ... and synthetic web ...

Subparagraph (a)(4) of §1926.251, and its attendant employer obligations regarding marking and proof testing lifting accessories, existed in Subpart H prior to the addition of subparagraph (a)(5) to §1926.251. Subparagraph (a)(5) was added when OSHA identified several existing general industry standards as being applicable to construction. OSHA listed those standards in the Federal Register and incorporated them into the portion of the Code of Federal Regulations where the OSHA construction standards are located (Part 1926).1

OSHA emphasized that the incorporation of those provisions into Part 1926 was simply a means of making it easier for the public to know which general industry requirements were applicable to construction; the re-codification of those provisions did not result in any substantive changes. This is reflected in the discussion in the preamble to this action:

This action does not affect the substantive requirements or coverage of the standards themselves. This incorporation does not modify or revoke existing rights or obligations, nor does it establish new ones. 58 Fed. Reg. 35077 (June 30, 1993) (emphasis added).

In other words, the codification of a general industry provision as 1926.251(a)(5) did not limit the coverage of §1926.251(a)(4), which originally included, and continues to include, special custom design lifting accessories.

Furthermore, the purpose of the scope provision in subparagraph (a)(5) is not to limit the applicability of §1926.251 only to slings, but rather, with respect to slings, to identify which types of slings are within the scope of 1926.251. This is reflected in the language of subparagraph (a)(5):

Scope. This section applies to slings used in conjunction with other material handling equipment for the movement of material by hoisting ... The types of slings covered are those made from alloy steel chain, wire rope, metal mesh, natural or synthetic fiber rope ... and synthetic web ... (Emphasis added.)

In sum, Subpart H of 29 CFR Part 1926 covers various aspects of material handling. Within Subpart H, §1926.251 provides requirements for rigging equipment, as indicated by its section heading, "Rigging equipment for material handling." Such equipment includes, for example, custom design lifting accessories and slings. Subparagraph (a)(5) addresses one type of rigging equipment - slings - for the purpose of specifying which kinds of slings are included in "rigging equipment for material handling."

Thus, along with other types of rigging equipment, §1926.251 applies to slings of the specified materials, when they are used in conjunction with material handling equipment to move material by hoisting. Note that the regulatory text does not state that this section applies only to slings. Rather, 1926.251 applies to certain types of slings and also to other types of rigging equipment, such as the lifting accessories referred to in subparagraph (a)(4). Therefore, 1926.251(a)(4) applies to the lifting covers you describe because these lifting covers are special custom design lifting accessories [see Question (2) below].

Question (2): The lifting covers are designed and custom-fabricated for the particular pressure vessels they are intended to lift and are typically not reused. Does §1926.251(a)(4) require these lifting covers to be proof-tested prior to use?

Answer (2): Section 1926.251(a)(4) requires the lifting covers you describe to be marked to indicate the safe working loads and proof-tested prior to use. Section 1926.251(a)(4) states:

Special custom design ... lifting accessories, for ... prefabricated structures and similar materials ... shall be marked to indicate the safe working loads and shall be proof-tested prior to use to 125 percent of their rated load.

Our understanding is that the lifting covers are installed on the top flange of the pressure vessels to enable the lifting contractor in the field to hoist the vessel onto the foundation and anchor bolts. Such lifting covers are "lifting accessories" because they have been attached to facilitate the hoisting of the pressure vessels.2 They constitute special custom design lifting accessories because the lifting covers are designed and custom-fabricated for the particular vessels they are intended to lift. Furthermore, "prefabricated structures and similar materials" include the pressure vessels you describe. Therefore, 1926.251(a)(4) applies, and these lifting covers must be marked to indicate safe working loads and proof-tested prior to use to 125 percent of their rated load.

For further explanation of this provision, please see the letters addressed to Mr. Pancari (June 14, 2002), Mr. Wagester (August 15, 2002), and Mr. Cole (July 7, 2003), available on OSHA's website at:

http://osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=25192

http://osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=25212

http://osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=24541

If you need additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468,200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.

Sincerely,



Richard E. Fairfax, Acting Director
Directorate of Construction


1 See Volume 58 of the Federal Register at page 35076 (June 30, 1993). [back to text]


2 "Accessory" is defined in The American College Dictionary 7 (Random House, 1967 ed.) as "a subordinate part or object; something added or attached for convenience, attractiveness, etc. ..." (Emphasis added.)  [back to text]


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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