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.

June 21, 1990

Assistant Director of Engineering
Taylor Machine Works,.Inc.
Route 1, Highway 15 North
Louisville, Mississippi 39339

Dear Mr. Boyles:

This is in response to your letter of May 22, addressed to Mr. Richard Sauger, Office of Mechanical Engineering Safety Standards, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirement that brake drawbar drag for fork lift trucks be 30% of gross vehicle weight plus rated capacity load for speeds of 10 miles per hour or more.

In order to respond to your concern, we contacted the American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI), who referred us to the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME). AMSE told us that most fork lift truck manufacturers build trucks with a rated capacity load of 2,000 to 5,000 pounds. The 30% brake drawbar drag requirements worked well for the larger trucks but made the smaller trucks unstable. Therefore, the brake drawbar drag requirement was lowered to 25% maximum which, they say, works well for all fork lift t-rucks.

The OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.178(a)(2) requires that the design and construction requirements for powered industrial trucks established in ANSI B56.1-1969 be met. However, if OSHA observes employees exposed to hazards of inadequate design and/or construction of powered industrial trucks, the utilizing employer (not the manufacturer) would be held responsible for not assuring that ANSI B56.1-1969 requirements are met.

When OSHA requires that a consensus standard be met, and a more current revision of the same standard, with less stringent requirements, is released, OSHA will accept compliance with the more current standard unless OSHA feels that the new standard provides for less effective employee protection than the old standard.

In this particular case OSHA will accept the more current ANSI requirement because OSHA has no information contradicting ASME's position that a 25% brake drawbar drag for fork lift trucks is as safe or safer than 30%.

If we may be of further assistance, please contact us. Thank you for your interest in safety and health.


Patricia K. Clark
Director Designate
Directorate of Compliance Programss