Construction personnel hoists (CPH) continue to be a hot topic with the Cal/OSHA Standards Board. I recently wrote that Construction Safety Order §1630 (Elevators for Hoisting Workers) has long been a controversial and confusing standard. The Standards Board is now planning a “highly expedited” rulemaking process to resolve the confusion when the elevators must be installed at construction projects. Some stakeholders (labor groups) had hoped that the Standards Board would adopt an emergency regulation. The current controversy is specifically about what the building height must be for the elevator to be installed. According to current §1630(a) the elevator must be “installed and in operation” on a building or structure that is “60 feet or more in height above or 48 feet in depth below ground level”. Cal/OSHA has maintained and enforced that according to 1630(d) the elevator be installed on a building once the building reaches 36 feet in height (for a building that will ultimately be more than 60 feet). Section 1630(d) currently states that “Landings shall be provided for the passenger elevators on or in buildings or structures at the uppermost floor and at intervals not to exceed 3 floors or 36 feet.” I do not interpret that subsection as a requirement that the CPH must be installed when the building height reaches 36 feet. However, Cal/OSHA contends that subsection (a) and (d) taken together require installation of a CPH once the building reaches 36 feet in height.
The wording of the standard came up recently when an employer appealed a Cal/OSHA citation for failure to provide an elevator when the building had reached a height of approximately 49 feet. The building was to be 128 feet upon completion. However, the ruling by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for the Cal/OSHA Appeals Board (Decision After Reconsideration) in May, 2019, interpreted the standard as requiring the building to reach 60 feet before the elevator is required. According to the written decision, the Appeals Board has never required an elevator be installed less than 60 feet. The Standards Board has not defined the timeframe for “highly expedited” rulemaking process. The rulemaking is expected to cover only the issue of the height at which the elevator must be installed. No suggested wording has yet been provided by the Standards Board, but it’s likely to specify that the elevator must be installed by the time the building or structure reaches 3 floors or 36 feet. The Cohen Group will keep you informed.