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 21, 1999

Mr. Raymond R. Peterson
810 Krift Avenue, P. O. Box 247
Burlington, Wisconsin 53105-0247

Re: Powered Industrial Truck Training: §§1910.178(l) and 1926.602(a)(1) and (d)

Dear Mr. Peterson:

This is in response to your letters of April 2, and April 21, 1999, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the new requirements for powered industrial truck operator training in §1910.178(l) (under §1926.602(d), those requirements are applicable to employers engaged in construction).

In your April 2 letter you ask if the requirements apply to heavy equipment ordinarily used for earth moving work such as skid-steer loaders, articulated wheel loaders or backhoe loaders when equipped with forklift attachments and used primarily for material handling. We assume that your question relates to the use of these machines in construction.

Scope of the Powered Industrial Truck standard
Section 1910.178(a) states that the Powered Industrial Truck standard does not apply "to vehicles intended primarily for earth moving..." When OSHA recently added the new training requirements (§1910.178(l)) to this standard, we reiterated that the standard does not apply to earth moving equipment even when used with a forklift attachment. In the preamble to the new training requirements (volume 63 of the Federal Register on page 66,255) we stated:

The final rule does not, however, apply to earth moving equipment or vehicles used for over-the-road hauling. Three commenters suggested that OSHA clarify the scope of these training requirements (Exs. 7-25, 7-37, and 11- 2). These commenters stated that the discussion of the scope issue in the proposal's preamble could mislead employers into thinking that earth moving equipment and over-the-road vehicles were included in the scope because these vehicles can lift and move material. OSHA agrees that these vehicles are not powered industrial trucks for the purposes of this rule. Therefore, equipment that was designed to move earth but has been modified to accept forks is not covered by this final rule. [Emphasis added].

So, the standard does not apply to earthmoving equipment even if it has a fork lift attachment and is being used for material handling.

Front end and backhoe loaders are not covered by the standard
Since front-end and backhoe loaders are designed to move earth, they are not covered by the standard. Also, in the rule's preamble (Federal Register pages 66,254-5), OSHA stated that the scope of the standard is the same as the scope of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) B56.1-1969 standard and includes equipment covered by several American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standards - including ASME B56.6 (Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks). The ASME B56.6 standard excludes "loaders...even though their buckets and blades are replaced with forks...." (Emphasis added.)

Some skid-steer equipment is covered by the standard
"Skid-steer" refers to a steering system that allows the wheels on opposite sides of a machine to turn independently of each other, which gives the vehicle the ability to make a complete rotation within its own length. Skid-steer equipment that is earthmoving equipment is not covered by the standard. However, if it is not earthmoving equipment, it is covered. For example, in Appendix B to ASME B56.6-1992, under the definition of the term "truck, rough terrain forklift" there is an illustration of a vertical mast skid-steer forklift (Figure B4). That equipment, which is within the scope of ASME B56.6, is covered by the new training requirement.

Recommended training
While loaders, skid-steer loaders, and similar equipment with forklift attachments are not covered under §1926.602(d), we recommend that employers who use these attachments provide the training described in the standard. In the preamble (in the first column on Federal Register page 66,242), OSHA stated that powered industrial trucks can be equipped with, or can be modified to accept, attachments that permit the truck to move odd-shaped material or carry out tasks that may not have been envisioned when the truck was designed and manufactured. Effective operator training for trucks with specialized attachments would include instruction on the safe conduct of those operations so that the operator knows and understands the restrictions and limitations of the vehicle in those situations. Remember that, with respect to trucks that are beyond the scope of §1926.602(d), the requirements of §1926.21 continue to apply. Under §1926.21, employers are required to "instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions...."

We note that in February 1998, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued Alert 98-117, "Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Skid-Steer Loaders." NIOSH stated that they found a significant number of fatalities involving skid-steer loaders, pointing out that these vehicles put workers at risk of rollover and run-over incidents, along with hazards stemming from required entry and exit from the front over the bucket and hazards from the compact size of the machine, which places the operator close to the zone of movement for the lift arms.

Extent to which training must be specific to particular makes and models of equipment
In your April 21 letter, you ask if contractors must train their employees on each style, make and model of forklift that they have, or if they may train employees on an entire class of machine. You give the example of an employer having multiple "Telescopic Boom Rough-Terrain" forklifts that are made by different manufactures. You want to know if the employer must train employees on manufacturer-specific forklifts, or whether it is acceptable to provide training generalized to the type of forklift.

Operators who have successfully completed training and evaluation on a specific type of truck would not normally need additional training when they are assigned to operate the same type of truck made by a different manufacturer. However, additional training would be required if there are significant differences that could affect the safe use of the truck.

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


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction