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.

October 1, 1999

Larry Edginton
Director, Safety & Health
International Union of Operating Engineers
1125 Seventeenth Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Re: Powered Industrial Truck Training: §§1910.178(l) and 1926.602(c) and (d)

Dear Mr. Edginton:

Thank you for your letter dated May 18 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the new requirements for powered industrial truck (PIT) operator training in §1910.178(l) (under §1926.602(d), those requirements are applicable to employers engaged in construction). As you state in the letter, many International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) members may work for several employers over the course of a year. The letter indicates that providing or evaluating operator training presents practical problems for construction industry employers. You explain that IUOE locals are implementing standardized PIT training programs throughout the U.S. in response to the December 1, 1998, final rule, and you ask several questions regarding implementation of the standard.

Equipment covered by the Powered Industrial Truck standard

The construction standard for powered industrial trucks can be found in subpart O, 29 CFR 1926.602(c). Section 1926.602(c) incorporates the consensus standard ANSI B56.1 by reference and, therefore, has the same scope as the ANSI standard. Section 1926.602(c)(1)(vi), which was not changed by the new PIT training rule (volume 63 of the Federal Register on page 66255), states:

"All industrial trucks in use shall meet the applicable requirements of design, construction, stability, inspection, testing, maintenance, and operation, as defined in American National Standards Institute B56.1, 1969, Safety Standards for Powered Industrial Trucks."

The PIT training rule references not only ANSI B56.1 (the revised title is "ASME B56.1"), but further clarifies that the final rule applies to the vehicles covered by other volumes of consensus standards, including ASME B56.6, Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks (63 FR 66255).

Your letter quotes the definition of a rough-terrain forklift taken from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standard B56.6, and you ask whether the standard only applies to various types of equipment used on construction job sites that conform to that definition. It reads in part, "....a wheeled-type truck designed primarily as a fork truck with a vertical mast and/or pivoted boom, variable reach or of fixed length, which may be equipped with attachments...." That definition describes rough-terrain forklifts that are used primarily in construction; however, this should not be considered an all inclusive list for equipment covered by subpart O.

Neither consensus standard referenced in subpart O (ANSI/ASME B56.1 and ASME B56.6) directly addresses whether the equipment must have a vertical mast and/or a pivoted boom to be covered by the standard. Subpart O does not define rough-terrain forklifts, nor does the December 1, 1998, final rule. However, the preamble lists various types of vehicles that are covered by the rule (63 FR 66239), of which several do not have vertical masts or pivoted booms, such as low lift platform trucks and motorized hand trucks. So, neither a vertical mast nor a pivoted boom is a prerequisite for coverage under the standard.

Training program content

The new training provisions of §1926.602(d) can be found in §1910.178(l). Section 1910.178(l)(3) addresses training program content and requires that employees receive training in various truck-related topics, workplace-related topics and in the requirements of this section of the rule. It further lists sub-topics that should be included, unless a particular topic is not relevant to the type of vehicle or workplace.

Your letter lists four subjects included in the IUOE Local's PIT training, and you ask if construction employers are required to provide any additional training for employees. Your list did not include training in the standard itself, as required in §1910.178(l)(3)(iii). In addition, employers may need to ensure that additional training on site-specific or truck-specific matters is provided. One such example might be instruction on the safe operation of trucks with specialized attachments so that the operator understands the restrictions and limitations of the vehicle with those attachments. However, if the employee already has been trained to operate with those attachments, then the employer need not duplicate that training.

Paragraph 4.19 of ASME B56.1-1993 (the current edition of that consensus standard) contains specific operator training topics that were the basis for the topics in paragraph (l)(3) of the final rule. A training program that covers these topics would comply with (l)(3) (for the complete text of paragraph 4.19, see the preamble at 63 FR 66240-66241).

You also ask whether employees trained before December 1, 1999, the date for compliance with the standard, need to have their performance evaluated according to the 3-year anniversary of their training or the December 1 compliance date. Paragraph (l)(4)(iii) requires that an evaluation of each powered industrial truck operator's performance be conducted once every three years to ensure that the employee has retained and continues to use the knowledge and skills necessary to operation the vehicle safely. The date of the previous training controls the time frame for the next evaluation, not the compliance date for the standard.

Refresher training time frame

The PIT provisions governing refresher training and evaluations are located in §1910.178(l) (4). This section requires refresher training to be provided to ensure that the operator continues to have the knowledge and skills to operate the powered industrial truck safely. You note that this section specifies no time frame in which refresher training, prompted by the list of triggers in paragraph (l)(4(ii), is to occur. You ask if the employee must receive this training before he/she is allowed to continue operating the PIT. The standard's performance language does not set an absolute requirement that an operator cease to work immediately following an incident. This allows employers flexibility when considering the severity of the incident that triggered the need for retraining.

The final rule provides a performance-oriented and cost-effective approach to refresher training. The type, amount, and timing of refresher training depends on several factors, such as the equipment and terrain characteristics, nature of the unsafe act, and the potential for an accident or other incidents of unsafe acts or violations of §1910.178 to occur or reoccur.

Operator certification

Employers are required to certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated. As required by §1910.178(l)(6), the certification shall include the name of the operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation.

You ask if employers can rely solely on evaluation and certification provided by third party trainers. OSHA did not specify that the employer, or supervisor, or any other particular person, must conduct the training and evaluation, only that the training and evaluation be conducted by a person who is qualified. The training criteria are sufficiently detailed so that employers and professional trainers can provide adequate training. The preamble indicates that qualified third-party trainers could provide the training (63 FR 66,252). This was envisioned as an important tool for meeting the requirements of the standard. As long as the employer has a reasonable basis to believe that the third-party trainer is qualified and has a program that meets the requirements of the standard, it can rely on that trainer to conduct the training and evaluation of employees and can certify that these employees have been trained. However, as mentioned earlier, the employer may need to provide additional training on site-specific or truck-specific matters.

Maintaining Records

You further ask who must maintain the training and certification records. Paragraph (l)(6) does not specify who must maintain the records; however, the employer is ultimately responsible for ensuring the availability of these records. Third-party trainers who agree to maintain the records would also need to ensure their immediate availability to the employer.

If you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again by writing to: OSHA-Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Compliance Assistance, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20210.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction