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.

February 16, 1999

Mr. Michael L. Jenkins
President and CEO
International Warehouse Logistics Association
1300 West Higgins Road, Suite 111
Park Ridge, Illinois 60068-5764

Dear Mr. Jenkins:

This is in response to your letter of January 22, requesting compliance assistance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the revised powered industrial truck operator training standard.

Your specific inquiry concerned 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(5), Avoidance of duplicative training. Paragraph (l)(5) states, "If an operator has previously received training in a topic specified in paragraph (l)(3) of this section, and such training is appropriate to the truck and working conditions encountered, additional training in that topic is not required if the operator has been evaluated and found competent to operate the truck safely."

Employers employing new operators or temporary labor operators who claim prior training would be required to evaluate the applicability and adequacy of prior training to determine if all required training topics have been covered. The employer may wish to consider these factors: the type of equipment the operator has operated; how much experience the operator has had on that equipment; how recently this experience was gained; and the type of environment in which the operator worked. The employer may, but is not required to, use written documentation of the earlier training to determine whether an operator has been properly trained.

The operator's competency may also simply be evaluated by the employer or another person with the requisite knowledge, skills, and experience to perform evaluations. The employer can determine from this information whether the experience is recent and thorough enough, and whether the operator has demonstrated sufficient competence in operating in the powered industrial truck to forego any or some of the initial training. Some training on site regarding specific factors of the new operator's workplace is likely always to be necessary.

Under the OSHA multi-employer worksite policy (copy enclosed), citations may be issued to employers using temporary employees as powered industrial truck operators. A warehouse employer who supervises temporary employees would have the responsibility to ensure safe powered industrial truck operations.

Paragraph (l)(4)(i) requires employers to provide refresher training as required by paragraph (l)(4)(ii) to ensure that the operator continues to have the knowledge and skills to operate the powered industrial truck safely. A temporary employee involved in an instance of unsafe operation, an accident, or a near-miss incident, at a warehouse employer worksite would require refresher training as specified in paragraph (l)(4)(ii).

Paragraph (l)(6) requires that employers certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by paragraph (l). Certification includes the name of an operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. If we can be of further assistance , please contact Wil Epps of my staff at (202) 693-1850.


Richard Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs