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.

September 24, 1990

Mr. V. M. Speakman, Jr. President
Brotherhood of Railroad
Signalmen Box U
Mount Prospect, Illinois 60056

Dear Mr. Speakman:

Thank you for your letter of July 23, concerning driver training and seat belt use. You wanted to know to what extent the proposed rule on Occupant Protection in Motor Vehicles, published in the Federal Register on July 12, would affect your members.

The current Policy Statement of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) (43 CFR 10584, dated March 14, 1978) (enclosed), addresses jurisdictional issues between the FRA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA's jurisdiction over railroad employees with regard to personal protective equipment (PPE) is clear. The section states:

"OSHA regulations concerning personal protective equipment apply according to their terms, except to the extent the general requirements might be read to require protective equipment responsive to hazards growing out of railroad operations. For instance, OSHA, could not prescribe attire designed for mandatory use of an employee while involved in uncoupling cars or operating a locomotive."

The Occupant Protection Proposed Rule parallels the FRA Policy Statement. The proposed rule's definition of motor vehicle specifically excludes from coverage vehicles operated "exclusively on a rail or rails." Therefore, the Occupant Protection Proposed Rule does not conflict with the current FRA Policy Statement. If the OSHA rule is finalized as currently proposed, the safety belt requirement would apply to your members when driving or occupying any motor vehicle that is company owned, leased or rented or privately owned when used for official business on public highways and off highway. In addition, the driver training requirement would apply to your members who at least routinely or non-routinely operate motor vehicles for official business on highway and off highway. However, if the vehicles that employees are operating or occupying ace track mounted, then the employees would be covered by the rules of the FRA.

If you need further information, we will be happy to respond. Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health.


Gerard F. Scannell
Assistant Secretary