Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Trucking Industry

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OSHA Standards

State Standards

There are 28 OSHA-approved State Plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements.

This section highlights OSHA standards, directives (instructions to OSHA staff), letters of interpretation (official letters of interpretation of the standards), and whistleblower protection may be applicable to a trucker depending on the location, activity, type of material handled and industry.

Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness (29 CFR 1904) [related topic page]

  • 1904.2, Partial exemption for establishments in certain industries
  • 1904.7, General recording criteria
  • 1904.29, Forms

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

OSHA is preempted by Section 4(b)1 of the OSH Act from enforcing its regulations if a working condition is regulated by another Federal agency.

For example:

  • While traveling on public highways, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has jurisdiction. However, while loading and unloading trucks, OSHA regulations govern the safety and health of the workers and the responsibilities of employers to ensure their safety at the warehouse, at the dock, at the rig, at the construction site, at the airport terminal and in all places truckers go to deliver and pick up loads.
  • While operating at an airport, if there is an operational plan negotiated between the carrier and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that covers a working condition, then the FAA has jurisdiction.
  • Due to the DOT brake regulation, OSHA does not cite for failure to chock trailer wheels if the vehicle is otherwise adequately secured. DOT's regulation preempts enforcement and DOT has jurisdiction. However, if the vehicle is an intrastate truck, OSHA has jurisdiction. Only another Federal agency may preempt OSHA's jurisdiction
Letters of Interpretation
  • Review of Policy on Section 4(b)(1) of the Act. (July 10, 1989). Discusses the scope of Section 4(b)1; that is, if the other agency's regulation (or the lack of one) does not cover the hazard in question, then the OSH Act's requirements are not preempted. The terms "working conditions" and "gap theory," are discussed. For example, if the Office of Motor Carrier Safety (OMCS) has a regulation addressing a certain working condition (or hazard), then OSHA would be preempted from applying its standards to that hazard.

Highway Driving

  • Cross-view back-up mirrors on delivery trucks. (January 24, 1997). OSHA has no specific regulations requiring the installation of "cross-view" mirrors on delivery vehicles. At present, OSHA has no specific standards that address motor vehicle safety in general industry workplaces, including the installation of safety devices on motor vehicles. OSHA's jurisdiction over motor vehicles is limited to vehicles operated in the workplace and not over public roads.
  • DOT has jurisdiction of the trucking industry. (January 13, 1992). Establishes that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has the authority and responsibility for promulgating and enforcing regulations related to the trucking industry.
  • Motor vehicle accidents are not within OSHA's jurisdiction. (January 13, 1992). Determines that motor vehicle accidents at railroad crossings do not fall within OSHA's jurisdiction; rather, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has jurisdiction in this matter.
  • Safety requirements applicable to lunch and rest breaks during an employee's workday. (January 24, 1986). Requires that those employed in driving commercial vehicles involved in interstate commerce follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations on Hours of Service Regulations Final Rule. A new Hours-of-Service (HOS) Final Rule was issued on December 22, 2011. The effective date of the Final Rule is February 27, 2012, and the compliance date of selected provisions is July 1, 2013.

Loading and Unloading

  • Host employers may require site-specific forklift training of visiting workers. (October 28, 1999). Determines that employers are entitled to require that employees who operate power pallet jacks have a training beyond that required by the regulation and that they be trained specifically in the equipment and conditions at its worksite.
  • Applicability of the HCS to diesel exhaust emissions and diesel fuel. (December 22, 1988). Indicates that diesel exhaust emissions are not covered by the HCS. Diesel fuel however is covered by the HCS and any known hazards associated with this fuel must be reported on the material safety data sheet, including the hazards associated with the combustion of the fuel. Vehicle operators would not be covered while operating a motor vehicle, however operators would be covered while performing terminal operations.
  • Letter concerning OSHA Instruction STD 1-11.7. (September 3, 1981). Determines that trucks and trailers may be secured to the dock in lieu of chocks or blocks during loading or unloading operations when using powered industrial trucks.
  • Wire rope were used as a bull wire. (August 20, 1976). Discusses Rigging Equipment for Material Handling, Wire Rope, 29 CFR 1926.251(c)(3), which states that: "Wire rope shall not be secured by knots, except on haul back lines on scrapers." In addition, if this wire rope is used as a bull wire, then 29 CFR 1926.251(c)(4)(iii) requires that the eyes in bull wires shall not be formed by knots or wire rope clips. The above standards recognize the hazard of tying knots in wire ropes used for hoisting, lowering, or pulling loads.

Transporting Hazardous Material

  • Clarification of systems for electronic access to MSDSs. (February 18, 1999). Provides an explanation of the Hazard Communication Standard related to MSDSs. The mobile worksite provision allows employees who travel between worksites during the work shift to phone-in for hazard information. In this situation, employees have access to the MSDSs prior to leaving the worksite and upon returning. The telephone system, therefore, is seen as an emergency arrangement.
  • Vehicle operations on hazardous waste sites. (April 2, 1992). Indicates that most of the responsibility for regulation of over-the-road vehicle operations belongs to the Department of Transportation. However, if the employer gives the truck driver responsibility to respond to emergency spills of hazardous substances or directs the driver to drive onto hazardous waste sites, then the driver is covered by OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard.
  • Emergency response in the trucking industry. (April 3, 1991). Determines that each container of hazardous chemicals must be labeled, tagged or marked with the identity of the hazardous chemical, an appropriate hazard warning, and the name and address of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party.
  • Training requirements for drivers hauling hazardous waste. (June 7, 1991). Indicates that the training under 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6) depends on the duties and functions to be performed by the truck driver. If the truck driver is expected to stop dangerous leaks and clean up the spills, then training at the hazardous materials technician or hazardous materials specialist level is appropriate.
Whistleblower Protection

Section 405 of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) provides protection from reprisal by employers for truckers and certain other employees in the trucking industry involved in activity related to interstate commercial motor vehicle safety and health. Secretary of Labor's Order No. 9-83 (48 FR 35736, August 5, 1983) delegated authority to the Assistant Secretary of OSH to investigate and issue findings and preliminary orders under Section 405. The Office of Investigative Assistance has a Whistleblower Program.

Employees who believe they have been discriminated against for exercising their rights under Section 405 can file a complaint with OSHA within 180 days of the incident. The Secretary will investigate the complaint and, within 60 days after it was filed, issue findings as to whether there is a reason to believe Section 405 has been violated.

If the Secretary finds that a complaint has merit, he/she also will issue an order requiring, where appropriate, abatement of the violation, reinstatement with back pay and related compensation, payment of compensatory damages, and the payment of the employee's expenses in bringing the complaint. Either the employee or employer may object to the findings. If no objection is filed within 30 days, the finding and order are final. If a timely filed objection is made, however, the objecting party is entitled to a hearing on the objection before an Administrative Law Judge of the Department of Labor.

Within 120 days of the hearing, the Secretary will issue a final order. A party aggrieved by the final order may seek judicial review in a court of appeals within 60 days of the final order.

The following activities that may be performed by truckers and certain employees involved in inter-state commercial motor vehicle operation are protected under Section 405:

  • Filing of safety or health complaints with OSHA or another regulatory agency relating to a violation of a commercial motor vehicle safety rule, regulation, standard, or order.
  • Instituting or causing to be instituted any proceedings relating to a violation of a commercial motor vehicle safety rule, regulation, standard, or order.
  • Testifying in any such proceedings relating to the above items.
  • Refusing to operate a vehicle when such operation constitutes a violation of any Federal rules, regulations, standards or orders applicable to commercial motor vehicle safety or health; or because of the employee's reasonable apprehension of serious injury to himself or the public due to the unsafe condition of the equipment.
  • Complaints under Section 405 are filed in the same manner as complaints under 11(c). The filing period for Section 405 is 180 days from the alleged discrimination, rather than 30 days as under Section 11(c).

State Standards

There are 28 OSHA-approved State Plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements.

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