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.

May 10, 1995

Mr. John Longo
Corporate Health and Safety Manager
CH2M Hill
625 Herndon Parkway
Herndon, Virginia 22070-5416

Dear Mr. Longo:

This is in response to your October 6, letter requesting an interpretation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) standards addressing reverse signal alarms on excavators.

The scope of paragraph 1926.602(a) does not include track mounted excavators with rotating housings such as the Hitachi 400 described in your letter. However, moving an excavator in a direction in which the operator's view is obstructed, without an alarm or an observer to signal the operator when it is safe to do so, is considered by OSHA to be an industry recognized hazard and citable under Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

If we can be of any further assistance, please contact me or Mr. Dale Cavanaugh of my staff at (202) 219-8136.


Roy F. Gurnham, P.E., J.D.
Office of Construction and
Maritime Assistance

October 6, 1994

Roy Gurnham
Director of the Office of Construction
and Maritime Compliance Assistance
Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Attention: Roy Gurnham

Subject: Applicability of 29 CFR 1926.602, Material handling equipment

CH2M HILL is currently providing engineering oversight services at a fuel farm demolition project in the Washington D.C. area. The applicability of the above referenced standard to certain construction equipment has been questioned, and agreement between CH2M HILL and the contractor is as of yet unresolved. As per our phone conversation on October 5, 1994, I am requesting written clarification on the applicability of the above referenced standard. The following is a description of the equipment and its onsite use, and the specific questions/issues at hand.

The equipment in question is an excavator manufactured by Hitachi, Model EX400LC (Hitachi-400). The Hitachi-400 is a tread driven (e.g., not on rubber tires), bidirectional (operator cab swings 360 degrees) excavator. The Hitachi-400 has been demonstrated as having an obstructed view to the rear by an individual standing behind the machine and not being able to see the front or glass area of the operator cap. It is assumed that the view is obstructed, without regard to the use of mirrors. The excavator is equipped with a backhoe-type excavating bucket. A second Hitachi-400 is also present onsite, and is equipped with a shear attachment (as opposed to an excavating bucket). The Hitachi-400 equipped with the shear is used onsite for pulling tanks from the excavations and cutting them apart in preparation for offsite disposal. Both Hitachi-400s are operated in a manner which limits the frequency and distance the equipment is operated in reverse. However, during the course of a given day, each machine may be operated in reverse a few times, at distances from 2 to 150 feet. The distinctions and descriptions of the use of the machines are noted should OSHA consider function as a criteria in determining the applicability of the standard.

The specific issue at the site is whether or not the Hitachi-400s are required to be equipped with an operating reverse signal alarm, or a signal person is needed, as specified by 1926.602(a)(9)(ii). The contractor has contended that because the equipment can be defined only as an excavator, the Hitachi-400 is covered ONLY by paragraph (b), Excavating and Other Equipment, of section 1926.602, which does not specify the requirement for a reverse signal alarm. Further, the contractor maintains that there have been Review Commission decisions affirming his interpretation.

CH2M HILL has not yet received documentation from the contractor to support their interpretation. In addition, I have not received verbal affirmation of the contractor's interpretation by compliance officers in your office (Mr. Tschappat and Mr. Cavanaugh). Contrary to the contractor's interpretation, both compliance officers verbally concurred with an interpretation consistent with 1926.602(a)(9)(ii) applying to the Hitachi-400.

Please fax your written response to my attention in CH2M HILL's New Jersey office, at 201/334-5847. Please contact me at 201/216-9300, x4543, if you require further information to resolve this matter.



John Longo
Corporate Health and Safety Manager