OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

November 17, 1986

W. L. Hamman, Manager
Safety and Loss Prevention
Celanese Fibers
Box 32414
Charlotte, North Carolina 28232

Dear Mr. Hamman:

This is in response to your letter of October 10, 1986, regarding your plan to retrofit fork lift equipment with an operator safety restraint system to prevent serious injuries or fatalities in the case of a lateral turnover.

As you are aware, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard at 29 CFR 1910.178(a)(4) relates to modifications of powered industrial trucks which adversely affect their safe operation and/or capacity. The installation of any substandard component would be considered a violation of the standard.

However, replacement of the seat with a seat of equal or superior characteristics is acceptable on powered industrial trucks without need to obtain prior approval from the truck manufacturer. Such replacement would not be in violation of the OSHA standard, since it is unlikely that it would create a potential safety hazard. We do note, however, that when restraint systems are utilized, consideration should be given to the structural integrity of the truck frame and the overhead guard to preclude or minimize the possibility of injury or fatality should there be a turnover, tipover (rollover) or a loading dock accident.

If we may be of further assistance, please contact us.


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Field Operations