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Course 820 - Crane and Derrick Safety I

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Crane and Derrick Basics

Liebherr Crane Mobile. Click to Enlarge


Moving large, heavy loads is crucial to today's manufacturing and construction industries. Much technology has been developed for these operations, including careful training and extensive workplace precautions. There are significant safety issues to be considered, both for the operators of the diverse "lifting" devices, and for workers in proximity to them. This course is a starting point for finding information about these devices and their operation.

OSHA’s standard applies to power-operated equipment used in construction work that can hoist, lower and horizontally move a suspended load, unless such equipment is specifically excluded from coverage.

Cranes Types

The types of cranes and derricks in the next few tabs are the most commonly used in construction and covered by OSHA’s crane standard.

Mobile Cranes

These cranes use a lifting devices incorporating a cable suspended latticed boom or hydraulic telescopic boom designed to be moved between operating locations by transport over the road. Mobile cranes include crawler mounted, wheel-mounted, rough terrain, all-terrain, commercial truck-mounted, and boom truck cranes.

mobile crane
Crawler-Mounted Latticework Boom Crane
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lattice work
Latticework Boom Crane
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hydraulic boom
Hydraulic Boom Crane
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Cranes Types (Continued)

Tower Cranes

Tower cranes have lifting structures that use a vertical mast or tower to support a working boom (jib) in an elevated position. Loads are suspended from the working boom. While the working boom may be of the fixed type (horizontal or angled) or have luffing (raising or lowering the boom) capability, it can always rotate to swing loads, either by rotating on the top of the tower (top slewing) or by the rotation of the tower (bottom slewing). The tower base may be fixed in one location or ballasted and moveable between locations.

Tower cranes include:

  • Hammerhead Tower Cranes - those with a fixed jib (hammerhead boom). They are the most common type used.
  • Self-Climbing Tower Cranes - as a building outgrows the fixed crane tower, a new piece of tower slides upwards through the center of the tower and adds itself to the top of the crane. The crane will continue to grow vertically.
  • Derrick Tower Cranes - those designed to operate atop roofs or fit into small spaces. They are commonly found on ships or at docking facilities.
  • Luffing Tower Cranes - those with a luffing boom that can be recognized by its diagonal arm coming out of the tower. If they are more than 100 meters high, they must be tied (tethered) to a building structure.
  • Self-erecting Tower Cranes - those with towers that erect autonomously. The use of self-erecting tower cranes is limited to a height of 100 meters above ground level.
Tower Crane-Hammerhead
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Tower Crane-Luffing Boom
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Cranes Types (Continued)

Articulating Cranes

Also known as knuckle-boom cranes and loader cranes. These are cranes whose boom consists of a series of folding, pin-connected structural members, typically manipulated to extend or retract by power from hydraulic cylinders. (See the next tab for rules that apply when such cranes are used to deliver material to a construction site.)


All derricks (except for gin poles used for the erection of communication towers have towers that don't actually bend but instead pivot at the base. The tower is usually made up of crisscrossing steel pipes and braces. This gives the crane a great deal of strength using very little structure. Four lines are connected to the tower; the crane tower can move in every direction because the lines are independent of one another. Hanging over the end of the tower is a single fifth line that has a hook or other attachment on the end. This fifth line moves up and down and attaches to loads.

Note: Despite their name, "digger derricks" are not considered "derricks" under the OSHA standard.

articulated crane
Articulating Boom
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derrick crane
Derrick Crane
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barge crane
Crane on a barge

Specialized Equipment

OSHA 1926.1400 also applies to the following more specialized types of equipment when used in construction

  • floating cranes;
  • cranes on barges;
  • locomotive cranes;
  • multi-purpose machines when configured to hoist, lower (by means of a winch or hook), and horizontally move a suspended load;
  • industrial cranes (such as carry-deck cranes);
  • pedestal crane
    Pedestal Crane
  • dedicated pile drivers;
  • service/mechanic trucks with a hoisting device;
  • monorail mounted cranes;
  • pedestal cranes;
  • portal cranes;
  • overhead and gantry cranes (except that such cranes that are permanently installed in a facility are subject to OSHA's general industry standard, 29 CFR 1910.179, even when used for construction work);
  • portal crane
    Portal Crane
  • straddle cranes;
  • sideboom cranes; and
  • digger derricks (except when used for auguring holes for poles carrying electric and telecommunication lines, placing and removing the poles, and for handling associated materials to be installed on or removed from the poles).
orange bucket
Orange Peel Bucket

Covered Equipment Attachments

OSHA 1926.1400 applies to equipment when used with attachments. Attachments are useful because they expand the range of tasks that can be done by the crane. Whether crane-attached or suspended attachments include:

  • hooks,
  • magnets,
  • grapples,
  • clamshell buckets,
  • orange peel buckets,
  • concrete buckets,
  • clamshell
    Clamshell Bucket
  • drag lines,
  • personnel platforms,
  • augurs or drills, and
  • pile driving equipment.

Equipment Used to Deliver Material

Placing materials may or may not be considered construction work.

It is common for material to be delivered to and unloaded on a construction site using a truck on which is mounted an articulating/knuckle-boom crane. This equipment may be covered by the standard when used in construction work. First let's discuss when delivery is not covered.

When Equipment is Covered

When equipment delivers materials by placing them onto a structure, the activity is considered construction work and the delivery activity is covered by the OSHA standard.

Materials covered by the standard include:

  • prefabricated components or building sections, such as roof trusses and wall panels; and
  • structural steel members or components of a systems-engineered metal building.

When Equipment is Not Covered

Equipment is not covered by the standard when it delivers materials, regardless of the type, by placing them on the ground without arranging them for hoisting.

Equipment is not covered when it delivers materials by placing them onto a structure if all four of the following conditions are met:

  1. the materials are sheet goods (such as sheet rock, plywood, or sheets of roofing shingles) or packaged goods (such as roofing shingles, bags of cement, or rolls of roofing felt);
  2. the equipment uses a fork/cradle at the end of the boom to deliver the materials;
  3. the equipment is not used to hold, support, or stabilize the material to facilitate a construction activity, such as holding material in place while it is attached to the structure; and
  4. the equipment is equipped with a properly functioning automatic overload prevention device.
power shovel
Power Shovel

Excluded Equipment

OSHA 1926.1400 also covers the types of equipment are specifically excluded from coverage. Below is a partial list of excluded items:

  • equipment that would otherwise be covered 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, and 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;
  • derrick
    Derrick Digger
  • digger derricks when used for auguring holes for poles carrying electric and telecommunication lines, placing and removing the poles, and for handling associated materials to be installed on or removed from the poles (digger derricks used in such pole work must comply with either 29 CFR 1910.269 Electric Lines or 29 CFR 1910.268 Telecommunication Lines);
  • 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;
  • tree removal
    Tree Removal
  • 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; and
  • helicopter cranes.



Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. Which of the following is covered by OSHA's crane standard?

2. Which of the following is a type of crane and derrick that is most commonly used in construction?

3. Which of the following types of equipment are covered under OSHA's crane standard?

4. When materials are delivered to the construction site by placing them on the _____, the activity is not considered construction work.

5. When _____ is/are delivered to the construction site, the activity is considered construction work.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.