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Overhead Crane Safety, 29 CFR 1910.179

Quick Tips #107

A crane is a machine used for lifting and lowering a load and moving it horizontally, with the hoisting mechanism an integral part of the machine. Overhead cranes are used in many industries to move heavy and oversized objects that other material handling methods cannot. Overhead cranes have a railed support structure, known as a bridge, and a wheeled trolley that travels across the bridge horizontally. The other primary component of an overhead crane is the hoist, that’s attached to the trolley, and is used to perform the lifts. Several varieties of overhead cranes exist including gantry, semi-gantry, cantilever gantry, storage bridge and wall cranes.

OSHA regulates overhead crane safety through 29 CFR 1910.179, overhead and gantry cranes. This regulation covers general requirements, design, inspection, maintenance requirements and operations.

General Requirements
  • All overhead and gantry cranes installed after August 31, 1971, must meet the specifications of the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) / American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Safety Code for Overhead and Gantry Cranes, ANSI B30.2
  • Cranes can be modified and load capacity rerated as long as the modifications and associated structure is thoroughly checked for the new rated load by a qualified engineer or the equipment manufacturer
  • The rated load of the crane must be plainly marked on each side of the crane. If more than one hoist is present, each hoist must have its rating shown
  • Clearance must be maintained above and to the side of cranes. Walkways cannot be placed in a crane operating zone that would compromise employee safety when the crane is in operation. Parallel cranes must have adequate clearance between the two bridges if no walls or structures are between them
  • Only designated personnel will be permitted to operate a crane
Design Requirements

The OSHA overhead crane safety regulation specifies design requirements on the construction of the cab and its controls as well as the cab’s lighting; foot-walks, ladders and stairways; bridge and trolley bumpers; hoist, holding, trolley and bridge brakes; electrical components; hoisting equipment; and warning devices.

Inspection Requirements

Due to the large and heavy objects often being transported by overhead cranes, routine inspections are necessary to ensure continued operation and overhead crane safety. An initial inspection of the crane (new or altered) prior to initial use is necessary. Once placed into service, overhead cranes will require two different types of inspections. Frequent inspections are done at daily to monthly intervals, while periodic inspections are completed at monthly to annual intervals. The purpose of the two inspection types is to examine critical components of the crane and to determine the extent of wear, deterioration or malfunction.

Frequent Inspections
Items to be Inspected Frequency
Functional operating mechanisms for maladjustment Daily
Deterioration or leakage in lines, tanks, valves, drain pumps and other parts of air or hydraulic systems Daily
Hooks with deformation or cracks (visual) Daily
Hooks with deformation or cracks (written record with signature of inspector and date) Monthly
Hoist chains and end connections for excessive wear, twist or distortion interfering with proper function, or stretch beyond manufacturer's recommendations (visual) Daily
Hoist chains and end connections for excessive wear, twist or distortion interfering with proper function, or stretch beyond manufacturer's recommendations (written record with signature of inspector and date) Monthly
Running Rope and end connections for wear, broken strands, etc. (written record with signature of inspector, rope identity and date) Monthly
Functional operating mechanisms for excessive wear Daily to Monthly
Rope reeving according to manufacturers' recommendations As recommended
Periodic Inspections

Items to be inspected:

  • Deformed, cracked or corroded members
  • Loose bolts or rivets
  • Cracked or worn sheaves and drums
  • Worn, cracked or distorted parts, such as pins, bearings, shafts, gears, rollers, locking and clamping devices.
  • Excessive wear on brake-system parts, linings, pawls and ratchets
  • Inaccuracies in load, wind and other indicators
  • Electric or fossil fuel motors
  • Excessive wear of chain drive sprockets and excessive chain stretch
  • Deteriorated electrical components, such as pushbuttons, limit switches or contactors

In addition to the initial inspection, OSHA also requires that all new and altered cranes are tested. The operational testing includes the following:

  • Hoisting and lowering
  • Trolley travel
  • Bridge travel
  • Limit switches, locking and safety devices
  • Trip setting of hoist limit switches
  • Load test of not more than 125% of rated load
Maintenance Requirements

A preventive maintenance program based on the crane manufacturer's recommendations must be implemented. If any deteriorated components or unsafe conditions are detected during the required inspections, they must be completed before the crane is allowed to be used. Only designated personnel may perform the required maintenance and repairs. The requirements of 29 CFR 1910.147, the control of hazardous energy or lockout/tagout, should be used to de-energize the crane (See Quick Tips #170: Lockout/Tagout for more information).


The manufacturer's instructions must be followed when operating to help ensure overhead crane safety. OSHA covers their load handling requirements under 1910.179(n). It addresses the following:

  • Size of load
  • Attaching the load
  • Moving the load
  • Hoist limit switch
Commonly Asked Questions
Q. Where are the standard crane signals located?
A. The signals are located in ANSI/ASME B30.2-2011. These are standard signals recommended by ANSI; however, OSHA does not require the signal system in its 29 CFR 1910.179, overhead and gantry crane regulation. The manufacturers of overhead cranes may also provide their own version of crane signals.
Q. Do standards exist for other types of cranes?
A. Yes, several. Here are just a few: OSHA 29 CFR 1910.180 regulates the operation of crawler locomotive and truck cranes; 29 CFR 1910.181 covers derricks; 29 CFR 1910.183 covers helicopters; and 29 CFR 1910.178 covers powered industrial trucks. The ANSI/ASME B30.2 – 2011 covers portal tower and pillar cranes; ANSI/ASME B30.5-2007 covers mobile and locomotive cranes; and ANSI/ASME B30.11-2010 covers monorails and underhung cranes.


Standard Hand Signals for Controlling Overhead and Gantry Cranes


29 CFR 1910.179, Overhead and Gantry Cranes
OSHA Hand Signals for Crane Operation
ANSI/ASME B30.2-2011, Overhead and Gantry Cranes

(Rev. 9/2017)

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Please Note:
The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This publication is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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