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.

November 27, 2001

Mr. Mark W. Monson, CSP
General Casualty
10400 Viking Drive, Suite 300
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Re: §§1926.451(c)(2)(iv) and (v) and 1926.602(c)

Dear Mr. Monson:

This responds to your January 3, 2000, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in which you ask several questions regarding the use of rough-terrain forklifts (powered industrial trucks) for lifting personnel in a platform. You ask which requirements must be followed by a contractor using a rough-terrain forklift for lifting personnel in a platform, and if there are any specific requirements other than those found in §1926.602. We apologize for the long delay in providing this response.

In short, requirements for the use of lifting and hauling equipment for material handling in construction, such as rough-terrain forklifts are set out in §1926.602(c). In addition, OSHA's construction standards for scaffolds (Subpart L of 29 CFR Part 1926, §§1926.451-1926.454 and Appendices A-E) also contain requirements that protect employees working on platforms elevated by forklift trucks. We explain these in detail below.

In OSHA's forklift standard, under §1926.602(c)(1)(vi), the designs of all industrial trucks used by an employer are required to meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) B56.1-1969, Safety Standards for Powered Industrial Trucks. Paragraph (c) of §1926.602 was first published as an OSHA standard in 1971. OSHA has not undertaken rulemaking to revise §1926.602(c). However, in 1993, paragraph (viii) was added to §1926.602(c)(1) as part of an administrative rulemaking to codify existing applicable general industry standards as construction standards. That paragraph, ((c)(1)(viii), is derived from section 603.L of ANSI B56.1-1969), sets out additional precautions for the protection of personnel being elevated by a powered industrial truck.

As mentioned above, other construction standards (besides §1926.602(c)) contain requirements to protect employees working on platforms. In Subpart L, the standard for scaffolds, the term "platform" is defined as "a work surface elevated above lower levels." Therefore, §§1926.451, 1926.452 and 1926.454 of OSHA's standards for scaffolds would be applicable for capacity, construction, access, use, fall protection, and training.

Note that, under §1926.451(c)(2)(iv), the standard states that front-end loaders and "similar pieces of equipment" shall not be used to support scaffold platforms unless specifically designed by the manufacturer for such use. The next paragraph (§1926.451(c)(2)(v)) specifically addresses forklifts used to support scaffold platforms, stating that the entire platform must be attached to the fork, and that the forklift is not to be moved horizontally while the platform is occupied.

In the Preamble to Subpart L, published in the August 30, 1996, Federal Register, OSHA discussed comments that asked if the Agency "should prohibit the use of cranes, derricks, forklifts, front-end loaders, and similar pieces of equipment for the support of scaffold platforms [emphasis added]." At the end of that discussion, in explaining our findings leading to the promulgation of the final standard, we stated:

OSHA finds there is insufficient reason to totally ban the use of forklifts, front-end loaders and similar pieces of equipment as scaffold supports. OSHA notes that the commenters are in general agreement that all equipment not specifically designed to support scaffold platforms must not be used....
* * * * *
All supported scaffolds, including those supported by forklifts, front-end loaders and similar pieces of equipment, must comply with the applicable requirements of §1926.451 for capacity, construction, access, use, and fall protection [emphasis added].
(Quotation from 61 FR 46044, August 30, 1996)

In construction, powered industrial trucks, which include rough terrain forklifts, are "similar pieces of equipment" to forklifts and front end loaders in this context. Therefore, they fall within the requirements of §1926.451(c)(2)(iv) and (v), along with the other requirements of that section for capacity, construction, access, use, and fall protection. So, in response to your query whether a contractor can field-design a personnel platform for a rough terrain forklift, use of such a platform is permitted only if the machine supporting the personnel platform was designed for that purpose and both the machine and platform meet the requirements in §1926.451 for capacity, construction, access, use, and fall protection.

If the manufacturer's operator manual states that a forklift is not to be used for elevating personnel platforms, use of the equipment to support such a platform would violate this provision. Consequently, OSHA prohibits the use of such equipment to elevate personnel. If the owner's manual for the equipment is silent on whether the equipment may be used to elevate personnel, the employer must determine if the forklift was designed for such purposes. The standard places the obligation on the employer to ensure that this type of equipment is used to elevate personnel only where the manufacturer has designed it to do so. The employer would either have to find out from the manufacturer that it was designed for this use or (where that information is unavailable) obtain a certification by a registered professional engineer that the equipment was so designed.

Your letter also mentions that you have been told the basket [that is, the platform for elevating personnel] must not extend more than 10 inches beyond the wheelbase of the machine in use. This is correct. That requirement is found in the ANSI B56.6-1992, Safety Standards for Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks. Paragraph 8.25.1(b) of B56.6-1992 refers to 10 inches (250 mm) as a limit for the distance, greater than the overall width of the truck, beyond which the platform is not [to be designed] to exceed.

As discussed above, OSHA's standards for the use of lifting and hauling equipment for material handling in construction, such as rough-terrain forklifts, set out in §1926.602(c), require that provisions in ANSI B56.1-1969 be met. Other than for §1926.602(d), which addresses operator training, we have not incorporated the ANSI B56.6-1992 as an OSHA construction standard. However, under §1926.451(a)(1) of the scaffold standard, the machine must "be capable of supporting, without failure, its own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it." If the rated capacity of the machine with the platform is based on this 10-inch (250-mm) limitation, then this provision of the scaffold standard would prohibit exceeding that limitation. In addition, under §1926.451(a)(6), scaffolds must be "designed by a qualified person and shall be constructed and loaded in accordance with that design." If the manufacturer of the machine has designed it with this 10-inch limitation, then it would also be a violation of §1926.451(a)(6) to exceed it.

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


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction