OSHA Requirements for Testing Industrial Lifting Equipment

You can't leave anything to chance in an industrial setting. The material handling equipment you need to keep shipments moving in a warehouse, or to send raw materials down the line in a manufacturing facility, has to be tested before it's put into daily use.

That's not just common sense; it's also the law. It might not surprise you to learn that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is very clear about material handling equipment in the workplace. Not only must every gantry crane, Lift Table, and forklift battery handling device stand up to strict proof tests, they must be periodically inspected to make sure they remain safe to use, even after years of hard lifting.

OSHA Requirements Testing Lifting Equipment

Here's what you need to know about testing your valuable lifting equipment in accordance with OSHA guidelines.

  • Before being deployed for daily duties, gantry cranes should be tested against a load that exceeds the manufacturer's given weight limit. However, 29 CFR 1910.179(k)(2) prohibits employers from using test loads above 125 percent of the rated load, unless manufacturers specifically recommend otherwise.

  • Just to make this all a little more confusing, that 125 percent figure comes up again in the OSHA standards — this time in a slightly different context. Any lifting accessory (custom grips, for instance, or specially designed hooks, clamps, or slings) must be proof-tested up "to 125 percent of their rated load." That's according to 29 CFR 1926.251(a)(4), a standard developed particularly for the construction industry. However, absent a similar rule for general industry, this standard may be applied just about anywhere.

  • If you use a gantry crane with a custom lifting accessory, then, you'll want to test it with a load of precisely 125 percent of the manufacturer's limit. Going over 125 percent would violate 29 CFR 1910.179(k)(2), while failing to go right up to that point wouldn't meet standard 1926.251(a)(4).

  • There are notable exceptions to the testing requirements for lifting accessories. If you use a lifting beam that isn't custom-designed for your application, you don't need to proof-test or mark the weight limit on that accessory. A standard lifting beam from a reliable manufacturer doesn't need to be tested (although the lifting device it's attached to probably does).

  • Don't worry too much about the type of weight you use to proof test your gantry cranes. In 2004, Jeff Moser, Director of Corporate Safety, Training, and Education at a Pennsylvania heavy construction outfit, wondered if federal regulations specify certified weights for official proof tests. They don’t, wrote Russell Swanson, Director of Construction at OSHA. "The standard does not specify any particular means of determining the weight of the load being tested," he wrote in response to Moser's letter of inquiry. "Therefore, any method that can be reasonably expected to yield sufficiently accurate and reliable data to establish the weight of the load may be used for the proof-test."

If you hadn't noticed, these OSHA standards can get pretty thorny. Talk to your OSHA compliance officer for more details. To learn more about the extensive testing that BHS conducts on every gantry crane, Lift Table, and Battery Extractor they build, browse the catalog here, or call the BHS Sales Team at 1.800.BHS.9500.


"Overhead and gantry cranes - 1910.179." OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016.

"Rigging equipment for material handling - 1926.251." OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016.

Swanson, Russell. "Standard Interpretation - Standard Number: 1926.251; 1926.251(a)(4); 1926.32; 1926.32(g)." OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, 9 Feb. 2004. Web. 21 May 2016.