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 14, 1991

Mr. Mark Peters
Sales Manager
Clarklift of Kansas City, Inc.
2720 Nicholson
Kansas City, Missouri 64120

Dear Mr. Peters:

Thank you for your letter of May 28, requesting clarification of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations 29 CFR 1910.178(e)(1), .178(e)(2), and .178(m)(9), dealing with requirements for backrest extensions and overhead guards for powered industrial trucks.

New High Lift Rider trucks acquired and used by an employer after February 15, 1972, must have an approved safety overhead guard to protect the forklift operator to comply with 29 CFR 1910.178(e)(1). The High Lift Rider truck is identified by the truck nameplate on which the capacity and load center of the truck load engaging means at maximum elevation must be indicated. Also, the rated capacities, alternate rated capacities, or alternate capacities may be included.

In order to comply with 29 CFR 1910.178(e)(2), new powered industrial trucks acquired and used by an employer after February 15, 1972, must have an approved vertical load backrest extension when the type of load being moved presents a hazard.

To comply with 29 CFR 1910.178.(m)(9), an overhead guard must be used on Low Lift powered trucks to offer protection to the truck operator from the impact of small packages, boxes, bagged material, etc., representative of the job application, but not to withstand the impact of a falling capacity load. The Low Lift truck is identifiable by the truck nameplate on which the rated capacity is indicated.

The information in your letter describing a forklift lifting a load approximately 48 inches high to a height of approximately 6 feet is not sufficient to evaluate your concern. The type of forklift, the type of load, and the position of the forklift operator, as well as the actual and potential heights of the load and of the lift, must be considered before a determination can be made as to which OSHA regulations apply.

We appreciate your interest in employee safety and health. If we can be further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs