Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

March 4, 1998

Peter Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.H.
22 Oakview Avenue
Maplewood, New Jersey 07040

Reply to the Attention of:

Dear Dr. Blumenthal:

Thank you for your letter of July 8, 1997, to Mr. Gregory R. Watchman, former Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), concerning injuries to workers when using dockboards while exiting truck trailers with powered industrial trucks. Your letter was forwarded to my office for response. We regret the delay in responding to your inquiry.

In your letter, you discuss incidents where workers have experienced injuries when powered industrial trucks exit truck trailers on dockboards and the truck suddenly pulls away. Consequently, the dockboard is displaced, and the powered industrial truck falls to a different elevation, causing serious injury to the worker.

Trailer creep and trailer pull away have long been recognized as a problem in dock operations. There are a number of companies that manufacture vehicle restraints to prevent trailer movement. If restraint systems are not used, trailers must be properly chocked to prevent movement as required in OSHA standards 29 CFR 1910.178(k)(1) and 29 CFR 1910.178(m)(7). To assist in the prevention of accidents, employers must set safe work practices for employees involved in trailer-to-dock operations, and enforce those rules consistently. Employers must have some system to make sure that truck drivers do not pull away while powered industrial trucks are loading or unloading.

With regard to your suggestion that we issue a hazard alert, please be advised that OSHA Instruction STD 1-11.5 and OSHA Instruction STD 1-11.7 limits our enforcement authority for OSHA standards 29 CFR 1910.178(k)(1) and 29 CFR 1910.178(m)(7). Copies of these documents are enclosed for your information.      [Please see CPL 2-1.30 for OSHA enforcement authority for chocking.] However, proposed powered industrial truck operator training rule dated March 14, 1995 (copy enclosed), is intended to enhance the safe operation of powered industrial trucks in the workplace. This proposed regulation 1910.178(l), specified in more detail what is to be taught to operators, and requires the employer to institute effective supervisory measures to ensure safe operation of powered industrial trucks. This revised rule is tentatively scheduled to become a final rule in the summer of 1998. [The revised 1910.178(l) became effective 03/01/99]

[This document was edited on 12/6/99 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy.]

We encourage you and employees involved in trailer-to-dock accidents to report any related hazardous conditions to the nearest OSHA area office for investigation. OSHA will continue to enforce regulations applicable to loading dock operations.

We appreciate your interest in occupational safety and health. If we can be of further assistance, please contact Wil Epps of my staff at (202) 219-8041.


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs