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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 https://www.osha.gov.
March 30, 2004
Mr. Michael Boyles
Taylor Machine Works
650 Church Avenue
Louisville, MS 39339-2033
Dear Mr. Boyles:
Thank you for your March 5, 2003 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). Your letter has been referred to DEP's Office of General Industry Enforcement for an answer to your question regarding OSHA's powered industrial truck standard 29 CFR 1910.178. It is my understanding that you have discussed your letter with my staff, and your question has been restated below for clarity.
Background: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks B56.1-2000 contains specific requirements for elevating personnel on powered industrial trucks. For example, operator-up highlift trucks (order pickers, etc.) are addressed by paragraphs 4.17.1, 4.17.2, and 7.36. Trucks with work platforms that do not fit that category are covered by paragraphs 4.17.2, 4.17.3, and 7.36.3.
Question: Does 29 CFR 1910.178(a)(4) require an employer to obtain prior written approval from the original equipment manufacturer for the attachment of a work platform that meets the applicable requirements as outlined in paragraphs 4.17.2, 4.17.3, and 7.36.3 of ASME B56.1-2000?
Reply: Yes, written approval from the manufacturer of a powered industrial truck is required for modifications and/or additions if the modifications and/or additions affect the capacity and safe operation of the truck. However, please be aware that OSHA would consider the lack of manufacturer's approval to be a de minimis violation if the employer has obtained written approval from a qualified Registered Professional Engineer after receiving no response or a negative response from the powered industrial truck manufacturer. If the manufacturer's response was negative, then the engineer, prior to granting approval for the modification or addition, would need to perform a safety analysis and address all safety and/or structural issues contained in the manufacturer's disapproval.
Even where the addition of a work platform to a powered industrial truck is permitted under §1910.178(a)(4) or the de minimis policy stated above, employers must also address the fall hazards that result from the use of elevated platforms. OSHA has proposed revisions to Subpart D of 29 CFR Part 1910 that include, in a new section §1910.31, requirements for mobile elevating work platforms, mobile ladder stands, and powered industrial truck platforms. (See 55 FR 13396, April 10, 1990, and 68 FR 23530, May 2, 2003.) Until a final rule is promulgated, an employer's failure to prevent or correct, to the extent feasible, fall hazards from elevated work platforms might be citable as a violation of Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHAct. OSHA's evaluation of the existence of a serious, recognized hazard and the availability of feasible means of abatement would include consideration of the relevant provisions of the ASME B56.1-2000 standard.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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. In addition, 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. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs