OSHA Guide – Cranes and Derricks in Construction

Section 1401 – Definitions

This section defines numerous terms that are used in the standard. The terms discussed below are of general interest and deserve particular attention. The definitions are in bold, and following each definition is an explanation of its significance.

A/D Director

A/D director (assembly/disassembly director) means an individual who meets this subpart’s requirements for an A/D director, irrespective of the person’s formal job title or whether the person is non-management or management personnel.

All assembly and disassembly operations must be carried out under the direction of an A/D director.

The A/D director must be both a “competent person” and a “qualified person,” or must be a “competent person” assisted by one or more “qualified persons.” “Competent person” and “qualified person” are defined below.


Assembly/disassembly means the assembly and/or disassembly of equipment covered under this standard. With regard to tower cranes, “erecting and climbing” replaces the term “assembly,” and “dismantling” replaces the term “disassembly.” Regardless of whether the crane is initially erected to its full height or is climbed in stages, the process of increasing the height of the crane is an erection process.

All assembly and disassembly operations must comply with either the procedures specified by the manufacturer or procedures developed by the employer that meet the criteria listed in section 1406. Under either alternative, procedures must comply with all manufacturer prohibitions.

Competent Person

Competent person means one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

A competent person must conduct shift and monthly inspections of all equipment. The A/D director must meet the test for a competent person (as well as a qualified person – see below). In addition, duties under the sections of this standard governing operations, hoisting personnel, multiple crane/derrick lifts, derricks, and floating cranes must be carried out by competent persons. In general, a qualified crane operator who has the authority to take corrective measures will be a competent person under this definition.

Controlling Entity

Controlling entity means an employer that is a prime contractor, general contractor, construction manager or any other legal entity which has the overall responsibility for the construction of the project – its planning, quality and completion.

The controlling entity is responsible for seeing that the ground conditions are adequate to support the equipment. The controlling entity must also inform the user and the operator of the equipment of the location of hazards beneath the equipment set-up area (such as voids, tanks, utilities) if those hazards are identified in documents (such as site drawings, as-built drawings, and soil analyses) in the possession of the controlling entity (whether at the site or off-site) or of any other hazards known to the controlling entity. See section 1402. The controlling entity must also establish a system to coordinate the operations of two cranes that operate within each other’s working radius. See section 1424.

Dedicated Spotter

Dedicated spotter (power lines): To be considered a dedicated spotter, the requirements of 1926.1428 (Signal person qualifications) must be met and his/her sole responsibility is to watch the separation between the power line and the equipment, load line and load (including rigging and lifting accessories), and ensure through communication with the operator that the applicable minimum approach distance is not breached.

The use of a dedicated spotter is one of the safeguards used to prevent a crane, as well as its load and load line, from breaching the applicable minimum distance from a power line, and thereby prevent death by electrocution and electric shock and burn injuries. The minimum distances that must be maintained, and the safeguards that must be used, are addressed in sections 1407-1411.

Electrical Contact

Electrical contact occurs when a person, object, or equipment makes contact or comes in close proximity with an energized conductor or equipment that allows the passage of current.

Equipment (including the load and load line) coming into electrical contact with power lines is the leading cause of crane-related fatalities. Note that the equipment does not need to actually touch the power line to make electrical contact, as electricity can arc from a power line to nearby equipment. It is therefore critical to maintain a safe minimum distance and not merely prevent physical contact.

Fall Protection Equipment

Fall protection equipment means guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, positioning device systems or fall restraint systems.

This standard contains fall protection requirements for cranes. The only provisions of OSHA’s general fall protection requirements for construction (found in 29CFR 1926 subpart M) that apply to cranes are specifically referenced in this standard. The listed types of fall protection equipment are further defined in the standard.

Qualified Person

Qualified person means a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, successfully demonstrated the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.

Numerous duties under the standard must be carried out by a person who meets this definition. These include conducting annual/comprehensive inspections of all equipment as well as inspections of modified equipment. The A/D director (see definition above) must be a qualified person as well as a competent person. A qualified person also is responsible for duties under various provisions of the standard, including those dealing with developing assembly/disassembly procedures, wire rope safety, fall protection, maintenance and repair, hoisting personnel, multiple crane/derrick lifts, equipment modifications, tower cranes, derricks, and floating cranes/derricks.

Rated Capacity

Rated capacity means the maximum working load permitted by the manufacturer under specified working conditions. Such working conditions typically include a specific combination of factors such as equipment configuration, radii, boom length, and other parameters of use.

Workers have been killed and injured when cranes have collapsed because their rated capacity was exceeded. Compliance with the rated capacity is therefore one of the most critical protective measures required by the standard.