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 25, 1995

Mr. Michael J. Frenzel,
CSP Associated Safety Consultants, Inc.
9613 Interline Avenue, Suite D
Baton Rouge, LA 70809

Dear Mr. Frenzel:

Your letter dated December 2, 1994, addressed to Mr. John B. Miles, Director of Compliance Programs, requesting an interpretation of 29 CFR 1926.602(a)(1)(iii) as it applies to seat belts for excavators was forwarded to the Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance Assistance for response.

The Operator's compartments on rotating housings of excavating and similar equipment are not required to be equipped with seat belts or roll over protective structures (ROPS). As you know, paragraph 1926.602(b) entitled "Excavating and other equipment" requires tractors covered in paragraph 1926.602(a) to have seat belts in the operators compartment. This includes tractors with back-hoe or other excavation attachments. However, OSHA does not consider excavators with a rotating housing to be tractors or similar to the equipment that is covered in paragraph 1926.602(a). Similarly, equipment with a rotating housing is not required to be equipped with ROPS because they are not similar to the type of equipment covered by 1926.1000.

With regard to your question on whether there is adequate canopy protection for the operator of this equipment, please be advised that OSHA does not consider an excavator boom assembly to be an adequate roll stopper.

If we can be of further assistance please contact [the Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # (202) 693-1689].


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

December 2, 1994

Directorate of Compliance Programs
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C.

20210RE: Interpretation of Standards, Construction.

Dear Directorate of Compliance,

New tracked excavators have seat belts installed. The older model tracked excavators (such as a 1980 Case 880 B) do not have seat belts installed?

29 CFR 1926.602(a)(1)(iii) states that "Seat belts need not be provided for equipment which does not have roll-over protective structure (ROPS) or adequate canopy protection".

Since neither piece of equipment has ROPS, that raises the question, what constitutes adequate canopy protection? I noticed in a letter from the Chief, Office of Standards Development, to Pettibone Corporation, dated June 2, 1972, and reaffirmed by your office in a letter dated January 24, 1992, the logic used to justify seat belt use (and I'll paraphrase), was that a hoist frame that extended above the operator's station appeared to give the machine an effective roll stopper (although not a ROPS) when the side of the machine parallels the ground, and that this would indicate a need for an adequate harness in the form of seat belts or other additional restraints to prevent the operator from leaving his safety zone in the event of an upset.

Using this same logic, should not the older excavator be refitted with a seat belt? It seems to me that the boom assembly would provide a similar roll stopper and therefore provide adequate canopy protection? and therefore require a seat belt?

I (and my client) eagerly await your response. If you do not understand my questions, please call me.



[Corrected 5/17/2006]