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.

January 27, 2004

Joel Marantan
Received via e-correspondence.

Dear Mr. Marantan:

This is in response to your question as to whether operators of mobile cranes with operator cabs are subject to a seat belt requirement. As described and further limited below, the answer depends upon whether the employee is driving that crane as opposed to being engaged in lifting operations at the job-site.

Subpart O, Motor Vehicles, Mechanized Equipment, and Marine Operations contains seat belt installation requirements for various motor vehicles/mechanized equipment. Specifically, §1926.601(a), Coverage, provides:

Motor vehicles as covered by this part are those vehicles that operate within an off-highway job-site, not open to public traffic. * * *

In addition, §1926.601(b)(9) of the same Subpart states:

Seat belts and anchorages meeting the requirements of 49 CFR part 571 (Department of Transportation, Federal Motor vehicle Safety Standards) shall be installed in all motor vehicles.

Further, Subpart C - General Safety and Health Provisions contains the corresponding use requirement. Section 1926.28 Personal protective equipment notes:

(a) The employer is responsible for requiring the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment in all operations where there is an exposure to hazardous conditions and where this part indicates the need for using such equipment to reduce the hazards to the employees.

A review of the term "motor vehicles" as used in §1926.601(a) indicates that it was intended to apply to vehicles being driven or used to transport employees from one place to another.

Further, the seat belt installation requirement set forth in §1926.601(b)(9) applies to these vehicles. This requirement protects employees in these vehicles from the hazards associated with being unrestrained in an accident (sometimes referred to as "displacement") that seat belt installation (and use, as required by §1926.28(a)) traditionally addresses.

The term "motor vehicles" in §1926.601(a) includes rubber-tired mobile cranes that are being driven on an off-highway job-site. As such, the above-noted requirements relative to the installation and use of seat belts also apply to the use of such equipment. Again, these requirements address the traditional hazard of an employee being displaced while driving a rubber-tired mobile crane.

However, §1926.601 does not apply where the employee/operator is engaged in lifting operations (and is not concurrently driving or being driven in the crane to another location); the seat belt use requirements would not apply. Similarly, if a cab is only used for lifting operations, that cab would not be subject to the seat belt installation requirement.

If you need additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.

Sincerely,


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction