ASME B30 is a gargantuan suite of American National Standards, with each document existing as a distinct volume. Just like various other wide-reaching concepts, ASME B30 has had plenty of time to expand from its initial form. In fact, the series of standards dates back to 1916, when an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) committee on the Protection of Industrial Workers presented an eight-page “Code of Safety Standards for Cranes” at the annual meeting of ASME.
Today, ASME B30 exists as 30 separate volumes, each addressing a different type of lifting machinery utilized in construction processes. We’ve listed these standards below. For those who design or operate all these devices or otherwise need to comply with all these standards, 29 can be acquired as the ASME B30 Construction Package.
ANSI offers several other standards packages to help assure compliance among practices shared across numerous lifting devices and their associated standards.
Lifting Equipment in the Ancient World
While ASME B30 began with a short code prepared over 100 years ago, it represents the best practices improved throughout millennia. In fact, many of the devices addressed in the series have existed in some form since antiquity, evolving throughout the years to enhance their efficiency and safety.
While industry has persisted since the early days of humankind (refer to our post on the first standard), the majority of Homo sapiens’ tenure on this Earth has been devoid of construction practices. For shelters and living spaces, the earliest hunter-gatherers turned to natural structures like. When they eventually did construct shelters, likely during the Upper Paleolithic (Paleolithic meaning the Old Stone Age), they built basic huts or tents with wooden supports.
Humankind didn’t see complex structures until after the advent of agriculture. The reasoning for this: the domestication of various plants and animals encouraged a more sedentary lifestyle to tend to these crops and animals. The increased population led to an abundance of specialized workers, advanced cities with centralized governments, writing and record keeping, organized religion, and arts and infrastructure. These are considered key elements of civilization.
Around 1500 BCE in Mesopotamia, the birthplace of both agriculture and civilization, the first pulleys emerged to hoist water. This invention led to the compound pulley, which was created by Archimedes. The compound pulley eventually inspired the invention of the crane, an accomplishment that we also owe to the Greeks.
Devices like the crane, as well as the sling—which has roots as an archaic missile launcher—were present throughout the construction of numerous structures emblematic of the ancient world. However, while safety was likely not a top concern during construction processes ordained by pharaohs and others powerful figures, these events long predate the ASME B30 standard.
Instead, let’s look at an example far more contemporary with the safety standard: the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. This suspension bridge, then the longest in the world, was completed in 1883, centuries after advanced lifting machines like the hydraulic crane and aerial cableway had sprouted into existence. Unfortunately, this process, which spanned almost 15 years, took the lives of at least twenty people, with dozens more suffering debilitating injuries. In fact, the first fatality came even before construction had begun.
History of ASME B30
While the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge was a massive endeavor, its notable fatality rate demonstrates that safety was not necessarily on people’s minds at the time. Therefore, the initial eight-page “Code of Safety Standards for Cranes” was a necessity for improving safety efforts in the construction industry.
However, this document was just a jumping off point for ASME and the standards community. In fact, numerous groups convened throughout the 1920s to form a Sectional Committee and further advance progress in standardizing this sector. This committee developed the “Safety Code for Cranes, Derricks, and Hoists” as ASA B30.2-1943, while reserving “Jacks” for ASA B30.1-1943.
Please note that these early B30 standards were designated ASA B30.X-19XX because ANSI was, at the time, the American Standards Association (ASA). ASA, which was founded as the American Engineering Standards Committee (AESC), changed its name to the United States of America Standards Institute (USASI) in 1966 before becoming the American National Standards Institute in 1969. Because of this, past ASME B30 volumes may be designated “ASA B30,” “USAS B30,” or “ANSI B30.”
While the standard for jacks has retained its place as volume 1 of ASME B30 throughout the past century, part 2 was divided into multiple standards in the series. In the 1960s, B30.3, B30.5, B30.6, B30.11, and B30.16 were designated as “revisions” of B30.2. The remainder of the B30 volumes were published as entirely new standards. These 30 volumes were revised periodically throughout the remainder of the 20th Century, leading to the current editions that assure construction safety today. Since 1982, the B30 committee has been an “Accredited Organization Committee,” operating under procedures developed by ASME and accredited by ANSI.
Standards in the ASME B30 Series
All volumes of ASME B30 include:
You can read more about this standard in our post on ASME B30.5-2021.
You can read more about this standard in our post on ASME B30.9-2018: Slings.
You can read more about this standard in our post on ASME B30.10-2019: Hooks.
You can read more about this standard in our post on the changes to ASME B30.20-21. Please note that another standard, ASME BTH-1-2020: Design Of Below-The-Hook Lifting Devices, expands upon concepts associated with below-the-hook lifting devices, and it specifically includes provisions for their structural design criteria. You can read more about this standard in our post on ASME BTH-1-2020.
You can read more about this standard in our post on ASME B30.23-2022.
You can read more about this standard in our post on ASME B30.25-2018.
Furthermore, there are two new standards in development:
ASME B30.31 Self-Propelled, Towed, or Remote-Controlled
Hydraulic Platform Transporters
ASME B30.32 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Used in
Inspection, Testing, Maintenance, and Lifting
Standards Packages for ASME B30
As mentioned above, all these standards are available as part of the ASME B30 Construction Package. However, for users who don’t need every single volume of the B30 standard but are in need of assuring safety with multiple types of lifting machines, ANSI offers an assortment of standards packages that bundle several ASME B30 standards by topic.
Other ASME B30 standards packages include: