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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 http://www.osha.gov.
October 28, 1999
The Honorable Charles E. Grassley
Attention: Kathy Nuebel
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Grassley:
Thank you for your August 25, 1999 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Compliance Programs (DCP). You forwarded a letter from William Kemp of Letts, Iowa regarding OSHA's regulations pertaining to the operation of equipment by truck drivers and the powered industrial truck equipment training required by Sysco Foods in Des Plaines, Illinois.
On December 1, 1998 OSHA published in the Federal Register its final rule (copy enclosed) for powered industrial truck operator training (29 CFR 1910.178(l)). Mr. Kemp's letter seems to address this new regulation.
Mr. Kemp states that Sysco Foods is now requiring drivers of trucks delivering goods to Sysco stores to take Sysco's training course and receive Sysco's permit before being allowed to use power pallet jacks that Sysco had been supplying to the drivers to off-load their trucks. In lieu of taking the course, a driver can pay $30 to a lumper who will off-load the truck. Mr. Kemp states that the drivers of his company have already been trained and have permits, but Sysco will not accept their permits or any other permit.
Under the OSH Act and the OSHA powered industrial truck regulation, Sysco is responsible for ensuring that persons who operate power pallet jacks at its worksite have been trained properly. The training and evaluation the regulation requires is truck-specific and site-specific. It is therefore consistent with the regulation for Sysco to require outside drivers who come into its workplace to have undergone Sysco's training course.
It may be that your constituent, Mr. Kemp, is providing sufficient training to his drivers to meet the requirements of the new regulations. However, Sysco is not required to accept the adequacy of training programs conducted by other companies. Even if Sysco has reason to believe that those training programs meet the requirements of the regulations, Sysco is entitled to require that persons who operate power pallet jacks at its worksite have a greater degree of training than is required by the regulation and that they be trained specifically in the equipment and conditions at its worksite. OSHA's standards set minimum requirements, but employers are generally free to impose stricter requirements in their workplace.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. Please be aware that OSHA's enforcement guidance is subject to periodic review and clarification, amplification, or correction. Such guidance could also be affected by subsequent rulemaking. In the future, should you wish to verify that the guidance provided herein remains current, you may consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-1850.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs