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OSHA vs ASME vs ANSI: Understanding Safety Standards for Lifting & Rigging

In the lifting and rigging industry, worker safety and regulatory compliance with lifting and rigging safety standards are paramount. Three major organizations play crucial roles in setting and enforcing standards: OSHA, ASME, and ANSI. In this video we help clarify the differences between them and their impact on your operations related to lifting and rigging safety standards.

OSHA: The Enforcer of Lifting and Rigging Safety Standards

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces workplace safety regulations through inspections, citations and fines.
  • OSHA can shut down operations with excessive violations of its standards or the General Duty Clause requiring a hazard-free workplace.
  • While OSHA sets some safety rules, it often defers to standards developed by ASME, ANSI, and manufacturers.

ASME: Developing Lifting & Rigging Safety Standards

  • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is a non-profit comprised of volunteer engineers and experts.
  • ASME develops widely-adopted standards like the ASME B30 series covering cranes, rigging equipment, hoists and more.
  • These standards provide comprehensive requirements for equipment design, inspection, testing, operations, and training.

ANSI: Facilitating National Lifting and Rigging Safety Standards

  • The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees standards development by accrediting Standards Developing Organizations.
  • ANSI approves standards like those from ASME as American National Standards to promote safety and the U.S. position globally.
  • Key ANSI standards for lifting and rigging include the ANSI/ASSP Z359 fall protection series in addition to ASME’s lifting equipment rules.

Manufacturer Recommendations for Lifting and Rigging Safety Standards

  • Manufacturers’ instructions form additional requirements that OSHA enforces via the General Duty Clause.
  • ASME and other standards explicitly state manufacturers’ recommendations must be followed for equipment use.

By understanding the roles of OSHA, ASME, ANSI and Manufacturer Recommendations, lifting professionals can ensure their operations meet all applicable safety regulations and standards – protecting workers while avoiding costly violations. This video serves as an essential guide for EHS Leaders, Specialists, Managers, and operations personnel, aiming to clarify the complexities surrounding safety protocols and adherence in the industry. It emphasizes the enforcement power of OSHA, the standards development led by ASME, and ANSI’s role in facilitating and accrediting safety and performance standards.

For those seeking further assistance in rigging, fall protection, inspections, and training, our experts at Mazzella are available to offer guidance and solutions tailored to your needs. Ensuring safety compliance and operational efficiency is our utmost priority, aiming to safeguard both equipment and personnel within the lifting and rigging industry. Your commitment to safety and efficiency is our shared goal. Contact one of our experts today for personalized support and to ensure compliance and the safety of your team.



So we know you’ve heard of OSHA. You may have heard of ASME and ANSI as well, but you might be confused about what they do, how they’re different, and how much influence do they each have on the lifting and rigging industry. So today, we’re going to help clear up some of that confusion. My name is Ben, and this is the Lifting & Rigging Channel.

What is OSHA, and what does OSHA do?

Let’s start with OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration created by the Nixon Administration in 1971. OSHA serves to ensure safe and helpful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. Let’s keep our eye on that word enforce as this is the key to how OSHA differs from the other organizations. The Occupational and Safety Health Act of 1970 states that “Organizations must provide workers with a safe and healthy work environment.” The act gave the federal government the power to enforce this, and this is what OSHA does. OSHA does set standards, but they usually look to other agencies and committees to keep those standards up to date. OSHA standards have not changed much since the 1970s. This is why OSHA’s General Duty Clause is extremely important.

OSHA General Duty Clause

It states “A: each employer, 1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment, a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” 2) “Shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this act.” And B: “each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this act, which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.” OSHA will often cite this clause when companies are not adhering to the standards that are laid out by ASME and ANSI and leave them with a hefty fine. Not only does OSHA have the ability to find a company who violates their standards and those set by ASME and ANSI, but if enough violations are found, OSHA can and will shut down your operations.

What is ASME, and what does ASME do?

While OSHA enforces the standards, many of the standards seen in the lifting and rigging industry are designed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or ASME. Founded in 1880 to promote the arts, sciences, and practice of multi-disciplined engineering and allied sciences around the globe. ASME is comprised of a vast network of volunteers that include current and former engineers, scientists, academics, government officials, high-ranking executives, and more. ASME writes and set standards, codes, and best practices in many industries. ASME is at the forefront in forming industry best practices, whether it’s in lifting and rigging, bioengineering, aerospace engineering, elevators and escalators, or more. They also keep the standards they write up to date, writing revisions usually every three to five years.

How does ASME affect the lifting and rigging industry?

If you work within the lifting and rigging industry, and you’re using overhead lifting, rigging, and material-handling equipment, your daily operations are formed around ASME standards. The ASME B30 Safety Standard is a 30-volume comprehensive manual covering cranes, rigging equipment, hoists, material-handling equipment, below-the-hook lifting devices, and more. For each piece of equipment covered by ASME, ASME writes standards that provide regulations on the construction and installation requirements, inspection, testing and maintenance procedures, operation requirements, including operator and end-user training, and the scope and definitions.

What is ANSI, and what does ANSI do?

The American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, was founded in 1918. ANSI is a nonprofit organization that develops performance and quality standards for many products and industries. They are known for facilitating standardization solutions. ANSI is one of the 170 members of the International Organization for Standardization, known as ISO. ANSI’s primary goal is to solidify the United States’s position in the global market. ANSI works in close collaboration with stakeholders from industry and government to identify and develop standards and conformance-based solutions to national and global priorities. ANSI facilitates the development of American national standards by accrediting the procedures of SDOs or Standards Developing Organizations and approving their documents as American National Standards. Like OSHA and ASME, ANSI focuses on safety procedures and best practices.

How does ANSI affect the lifting and rigging industry?

In the lifting and rigging industry, one of the more important ANSI standards, besides the ASME standards we mentioned before, is ANSI/ASSP Z359. A comprehensive guide on fall protection safety developed with the American Society of Safety Professionals. ANSI also has many standards developed for the construction and manufacturing industries and often offer industry collections that include standards written by several different societies and organizations.

What are Manufacturer’s Recommendations?

While we are talking about safety standards and organizations that create them, we would be remiss if we left out manufacturers who create these products. When purchasing and using any piece of equipment, it is vital to review the manufacturer’s recommendations. These are instructions, procedures, and recommendations issued by the facility or organization that manufactures the product itself. Manufacturer recommendations often cover topics, including maintenance schedules, potential safety hazards, and the recommended work applications.

How do Manufacturer’s Recommendations relate to ASME, ANSI, and OSHA

Often, written into ASME and other standards, you will find that they will defer to the manufacturer’s recommendations and cite that you shall follow the recommendations of the manufacturer. OSHA will also use their general duty clause to fine you if they find a company is not complying with the manufacturer’s recommendations for a product or piece of equipment.

How are OSHA, ASME, and ANSI different?

So, what are the major differences? All three are similar. OSHA, ASME, and ANSI, are four-letter agencies that advance worker safety and uphold industry standards. What separates them is their motives and ability to enforce those standards.

OSHA – Enforcer

OSHA is the enforcer. They are less concerned with the development of standards and more concerned with upholding the law and enforcing standards. If you do not comply with the standards laid out by OSHA, ASME, ANSI, or the manufacturer’s recommendations, OSHA can penalize you whether that be a fine or shutting down your operations. I would like to point out that just because OSHA has the ability to enforce these standards, you should not look to OSHA as the “bad guy.” It’s not that big bad OSHA’s coming for your business and shutting you down. They work to make sure that every American is granted the right to a safe and healthy work environment. While ASME and ANSI write out endorsed and plan industry standards, they do not have the ability to enforce the standards they create and facilitate. You’re not going to get a fine from ASME or ANSI.


ASME develops standards for mechanical engineering. ANSI accredits the procedures of Standards Developing Organizations and approves their documents as American National Standards. ASME standards are an approved American National Standard, so you can find them in the ANSI catalog of standards. While ASME puts heavy emphasis on the development of standards, it would be fair to look at ASME as a developer and look at ANSI as a facilitator.

Their Roles: Developer, Facilitator, and Enforcer

So you have a developer, ASME, facilitator, ANSI, and an enforcer, OSHA. All these organizations promote safety, and you need to follow their standards to stay OSHA-compliant. Fines associated with violations are expensive, but failing to keep up with best practices puts your workers at risk of injury or even death.

How to stay OSHA, ASME, and ANSI compliant

We understand that standards can be hard to follow and keep up with. That’s why our experts here at Mazzella can help you stay compliant in rigging, fall protection, inspections, training, and more. If you have any questions or are looking for help with compliance, reach out to one of our experts today. You can contact us through the link below. If you found this video useful, informative, entertaining, or you just feel like being friendly, then hit that like button, so we can get this information out to everyone who needs it. Subscribe and hit the bell, so you never miss a video. If you have a question, drop it in the comments, so we can get you an answer. Remember, safe rigging is smart rigging. My name is Ben, stay safe out there.

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In this video

0:00 – Intro

0:28 – What is OSHA, and what does OSHA do?

2:32 – What is ASME, and what does ASME do?

3:32 – How does ASME affect the lifting and rigging industry?

4:15 – What is ANSI, and what does ANSI do?

5:17 – How does ANSI affect the lifting and rigging industry?

5:46 – What are Manufacturer’s Recommendations?

6:20 – How do Manufacturer’s Recommendations relate to ASME, ANSI, and OSHA

6:43 – How are OSHA, ASME, and ANSI different?

8:40 – How to stay OSHA, ASME, and ANSI compliant

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Disclaimer: Any advice, graphics, images, and/or information contained herein are presented for general educational and information purposes and to increase overall safety awareness. It is not intended to be legal, medical, or other expert advice or services, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate industry professionals. The information herein should not be considered exhaustive and the user should seek the advice of appropriate professionals.