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 10, 1993

Mr. Robert B. Parrish
Taylor, Moseley & Joyner
Attorneys and Counselors at Law
501 West Bay Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202

Dear Mr. Parrish:

The following information is in response to your letter of May 4, 1993, to Mr. Raymond Donnelly regarding back-up alarms on [powered] industrial trucks. We agree that back-up alarms are not specifically addressed in the regulations of 29 CFR parts 1910 - General Industry, 1917 - Marine Terminals, or 1918 - Longshoring. Back-up alarms are required on certain vehicles in 29 CFR Part 1926 - Safety and Health Regulations for Construction.

Please be advised that there are two Maritime regulations, 29 CFR 1917.43(c)(5) and [29 CFR 1918.65(f)], that prohibit removal or disconnection of safety devices on [powered] industrial trucks. Thus, if the [powered] industrial truck is equipped with a back-up alarm, the alarm cannot be removed or made inoperative.

It is possible to cite an employer under the general duty clause if employees are exposed to serious injury from a backing [powered] industrial truck. There are various ways to prevent exposure like a signalman or a back-up alarm depending on the situation.

Concerning your request for a formal interpretation of the General Duty Requirements, please note we have attached a chapter from OSHA's [Field Inspection Reference Manual] which provides detailed guidance on the elements necessary to prove a 5(a)(1) violation of the general duty clause.

We hope this information provides your client with a better understanding of OSHA's Maritime Regulations.


Roy F. Gurnham, Esq., P.E., Director
[Directorate of Maritime Enforcement]


[Correction 6/2/2005]


May 4, 1993

Raymond Donnelly, Director
Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue N.W.
Room North 3468
Washington, DC 20210

Re: Back-up Alarms on Industrial Trucks


I have been asked by one of my clients to obtain from your office a formal interpretation of the regulation that requires back-up alarms on industrial trucks. I have researched the general industry standard (1910), the marine terminal standard (1917), and the longshoring standard (1918), and no where is the requirement for back-up alarms apparently addressed. However, it is my understanding from inquiries with various compliance office, that my client might be cited with noncompliance for failure to have this alarm under some sort of general duty standard. Please provide me as soon as possible a formal interpretation of the requirement.

My client operates marine terminals and is engaged in the stevedoring of roll-on/roll-off, and lift-on/lift-off vessels. There are or may be certain situations where backup alarms can cause some confusion to a point where they in and of themselves may present a safety hazard. Hence there is some serious confusion as to what is required of my client under various circumstances under the general duty section.

This request is of the utmost importance and we would appreciate your expedited attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,


Robert B. Parrish