The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced a final rule on improving the safety of longshoring employees who work with vertical tandem lifts (VTLs). The final rule will reduce hazards related to lifting two containers at a time using cranes by ensuring that safe work practices are followed. The rule was published in the December 10 Federal Register.

"Port employees who lift and transport containers in an unsafe manner face significant risk of injury or death," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Thomas M. Stohler. "This rule on the proper use of VTLs specifies requirements that employers and employees must follow to protect the safety and health of those working in terminal areas. Allowing the safe use of VTLs will also help stevedores and shippers improve productivity and reduce congestion at the nation’s ports."

The final rule states that VTLs limited to two empty containers can be performed safely with the use of semi-automatic twistlocks (SATLs) that are specially designed for lifting. OSHA determined that an inspection of the containers and SATLs immediately prior to the operation of VTLs is needed to assure that the equipment is in good condition. The rule also sets requirements for a ground transport plan and safe work zones.