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.

December 30, 1987

Mr. Richard L. Lambert, CSP
Safety Coordinator Ditch Witch
The Charles Machine Works, Inc.
P.O. Box 66
Perry, OK 73077-0066

Dear Mr. Lambert:

This is in response to your letter of December 28, 1987, requesting a clarification of 29 CFR 1926.1000 rollover protective structures (ROPS) for material handling equipment. This communication also confirms your telephone conversations on December 28, 1987 with a member of my staff, Mr. William Simms. We regret that we never received your September 28, 1987 letter.

The drawing attached to your letter shows a backhoe attachment which mounts on the front or back of a tractor. The driver of the tractor is protected by ROPS when driving the tractor and is therefore in compliance with our construction standards. The backhoe operator's seat is not equipped with ROPS and complies with our standards when operated in a stationary position.

You indicate that you have received requests from your customers asking for a means to move the trencher forward and backward from the backhoe operator's seat. You explain you can do this using the slow speed hydraulic system used for trenching. The maximum speed at which this hydraulic system can drive the tractor currently is 75 feet per minute. Such a feature used by employees would be in violation of our rollover protective structures for material handling equipment in 29 CFR 1926.1000. ROPS is also required for the backhoe operator's seat when the tractor is moving backward or forward.

If we can be of further assistance, please let us know.


Thomas J. Shepich, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs