OSHA Changes its Policy on Monorail Hoists in Construction

OSHA works closely with industry leaders and stakeholders to develop standards that not only keep employees safe in the workplace, but also make sense to the work at hand.

In this instance, OSHA has responded to input from stakeholders in the construction industry with regard to monorail hoists. Until now, monorail hoists have been included in the requirements of 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart CC- Cranes and Derricks in Construction. Because of industry leader and stakeholder comments, OSHA has changed the policy to remove monorail hoists from those requirements.

What are Monorail Hoists?

Monorail hoists are hoisting mechanisms attached to a completely fixed monorail (I-beam) mounted on equipment such as work vehicles, trailers or scaffolding systems. They do not have the ability to rotate, swing on a hinge, or boom out significantly from the wheelbase of the structure upon which it is mounted. Materials hoisted by the monorail cannot be hoisted higher than the monorail itself.

In construction, monorail hoists are typically used to place septic tanks and other pre-cast concrete components, mechanical components like engines and commercial generators, and things such as industrial spooled materials and electrical transformers.

Why Remove Monorail Hoists from Subpart CC?

Compared to other cranes and derricks that are used in construction, monorail hoists operate differently in that they do not swing side to side. Monorail hoists can only be extended in a fixed horizontal direction to hoist materials, and can only hoist them as high as the monorail. There is no ability to rotate a monorail hoist, swing, or extend it out significantly from the equipment on which they are mounted. This reduces the number of related hazards during operation.

There are several hazards for which Subpart CC was designed to protect against, that do not apply to monorail hoists. These hazards include booming out loads, boom free fall, and equipment swing radius. Additionally, when using a monorail hoist, one does not need level indicators, boom/jib stops, boom/jib limiting devices, boom length/radius indicators, and drum hoist rotation indicators, and the loads that monorail hoists handle are not heavy enough to trigger the need for load weighing devices.

What is OSHA’s New Policy Requirement?

OSHA will not cite employers for failing to meet the requirements of Subpart CC if they meet the requirements of the overhead hoists and training standards- 29 CFR 1926.554 (Overhead hoists).  

Operators of monorail hoists must be in compliance with 29 CFR 1926.21, which requires employers to train employees in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions in the workplace.

Employers must also ensure that each operator is qualified to safely operate that hoisting system per 29 CFR 1926.20 (b) (4).

Because monorail hoists are typically mounted to vehicles, trailers, scaffolds, etc., employers must ensure compliance with all other OSHA construction requirements that apply to whatever it has been mounted on.
Additionally, no change has been made to the general industry requirements (CFR 1910.179. 1910.306) for monorail hoists. For more information on the general industry requirements for monorail hoists, see the standards listed above, or the letters of interpretation: OSHA to Mr. Neal R. Khein, Jr. (Feb 12, 1991) and James Lake (April 23, 1984) which are available on OSHA’s website.

OSHA’s letter of memorandum regarding the Monorail Hoists Enforcement Policies is dated June 30, 2017.