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Cranes and Derricks: Plan for lifting operations

Cranes and derricks are necessary equipment on many jobsites. Although this equipment is designed, tested, and manufactured for safe operation, the variable conditions and activities faced on a jobsite have the potential for causing catastrophic accidents if safe operating practices are not followed.

Accidents can be avoided by careful job planning, development and implementation of control measures, and training employees to recognize hazards and use the protective measures needed to work on or around cranes. OSHA estimates that 89 crane-related fatalities occur per year in construction work. The leading causes of crane-related fatalities are:

  • Electrocution: 39 percent
  • Crane assembly/disassembly: 12 percent
  • Boom buckling/collapse: 8 percent
  • Crane upset/overturn: 7 percent
  • Rigging failure: 7 percent
  • Overloading: 4 percent
  • Struck by moving load: 4 percent
  • Accidents related to manlifts: 4 percent
  • Working within swing radius of counterweight: 3 percent
  • Two-blocking: 2 percent
  • Hoist limitations: 1 percent
  • Other causes: 6 percent

Regulatory Insight

Any employer who uses power-operated equipment that can hoist, lower, and/or horizontally move a suspended load in construction work must comply with Subpart CC of OSHA's construction regulations. But the rules also apply to equipment maintenance workers, other employers on the jobsite, and companies that supply crane operators.

Section 1926.1400(a) outlines the specific type of equipment covered. If the equipment is being used for construction, then it may be covered. However, if it is being used strictly for maintenance or repairs, OSHA has exclusions for this type of work under 1926.1400(c).

Examples of cranes that are covered by the CFR Subpart CC requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Articulating cranes (such as knuckle-boom cranes);
  • Crawler cranes;
  • Floating cranes;
  • Cranes on barges;
  • Locomotive cranes;
  • Mobile cranes (such as wheel-mounted, rough-terrain, all-terrain, commercial truck-mounted, and boom truck cranes);
  • Multi-purpose machines when configured to hoist and lower (by means of a winch or hook) and horizontally move a suspended load;
  • Industrial cranes (such as carry-deck cranes);
  • Dedicated pile drivers;
  • Service/mechanic trucks with a hoisting device;
  • A crane on a monorail;
  • Tower cranes (such as a fixed jib, i.e., "hammerhead boom"), luffing boom and self-erecting);
  • Pedestal cranes;
  • Portal cranes;
  • Overhead and gantry cranes;
  • Straddle cranes;
  • Sideboom cranes;
  • Derricks; and
  • Variations of such equipment.

The requirements do not apply to:

  • Machinery listed above while it has been converted or adapted for a non-hoisting/lifting use. Such conversions/adaptations include, but are not limited to, power shovels, excavators and concrete pumps.
  • Power shovels, excavators, wheel loaders, backhoes, loader backhoes, track loaders. This machinery is also excluded when used with chains, slings or other rigging to lift suspended loads.
  • Automotive wreckers and tow trucks when used to clear wrecks and haul vehicles.
  • Digger derricks when used for augering holes for poles carrying electric or telecommunication lines, placing and removing the poles, and for handling associated materials for installation on, or removal from, the poles, or when used for any other work subject to the Power Transmission and Distribution standards.
  • Machinery originally designed as vehicle-mounted aerial devices (for lifting personnel) and self-propelled elevating work platforms.
  • Telescopic/hydraulic gantry systems.
  • Stacker cranes.
  • Powered industrial trucks (forklifts), except when configured to hoist and lower (by means of a winch or hook) and horizontally move a suspended load.
  • Mechanic's truck with a hoisting device when used in activities related to equipment maintenance and repair.
  • Machinery that hoists by using a come-a-long or chainfall.
  • Dedicated drilling rigs.
  • Gin poles when used for the erection of communication towers.
  • Tree trimming and tree removal work.
  • Anchor handling or dredge-related operations with a vessel or barge using an affixed A-frame.
  • Roustabouts.
  • Helicopter cranes.
  • Material Delivery (see 1926.1400(c)(17) for details)

Specifically, Subpart CC requires employers to:

  • Determine whether the ground is sufficient to support the anticipated weight of hoisting equipment and associated loads;
  • Assess hazards within the work zone that would affect the safe operation of hoisting equipment, such as those of power lines and objects or personnel that would be within the work zone or swing radius of the hoisting equipment;
  • Ensure that the equipment is in safe operating condition via required inspections;
  • Ensure that employees in the work zone are trained to recognize hazards associated with the use of the equipment and any related duties that they are assigned to perform;
  • Certify or qualify operators; and
  • Qualify riggers and signal persons.