Recently a letter was sent to OSHA’s Directorate of Construction for clarification of the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard as it applies to articulating/knuckle-boom truck cranes. Below is OSHA’s answers to the questions:
Question 1: Section 1926.1400(c)(17)(i) states that when articulating/knuckle-boom truck cranes (truck cranes) are used to transfer materials from the truck crane to the ground, without arranging the materials in a particular sequence for hoisting, this activity would not be considered construction and therefore requirements of 29 CFR Part 1926 do not apply. Does this exemption include the delivery of propane containers?
Yes, OSHA included this exemption in the regulatory text of the cranes standard to clarify that OSHA’s enforcement policy for materials delivered from articulating/knuckle-boom truck cranes is consistent with a broader enforcement policy that applies to materials delivered only to the ground at construction sites using any kind of equipment.
Question 2: When propane containers are initially delivered by truck cranes to newly constructed structures, particularly containers of 2,000 gallons or less in liquid capacity, they are: lifted to only a height that is sufficient to clear the bed of the truck crane; set on the container’s steel legs on the ground or a concrete pad; and are not hoisted again by the delivery company’s truck crane. In addition, the truck crane operator does not connect the containers to any system nor hold the container in place in support of any further activity, including connecting the containers to a structure (including the concrete pad on which the tanks are set). Is this handling of propane tanks an activity covered by the exclusion described in Q#1?
No. In a prior letter of interpretation, OSHA clarified that the positioning of burial vaults in an excavation (grave) is not a construction activity because the vaults are not part of, nor will be connected to, a system or structure being constructed/installed. Therefore, positioning the vault within the excavation is not essential to facilitate any construction work.
In contrast, as you described, truck cranes are used to position propane containers in a particular area and orientation on an active construction site to facilitate the initial connection of the containers by another employer to newly constructed/installed propane systems. This activity is similar to positioning precast components in a particular place and orientation within excavations to facilitate connection to, and the construction of, a septic, sewer, or water drainage system by another employer. Subsequently, initially placing propane containers on pads at a construction site as you describe is considered construction and when truck cranes are used for this purpose, employers must comply with requirements of the crane standard.