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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.
November 5, 2004
Mr. Mark Fair
Post Office Box 46345, Rt. 747 & Muhlhauser
Cincinnati, OH 45246
Re: Powered Industrial Truck Training applicable to construction: §§1910.178 and 1926.602(a) and (d).
Dear Mr. Fair:
This is in response to your fax of June 30, 2004, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We have paraphrased your questions as follows:
Question (1): Are the training requirements in §1910.178(l) applicable to skid-steer loaders used for earthmoving in construction? If not, what training requirements apply?
Answer: Title 29 CFR 1926.602(d) states:
Powered industrial truck operator training. NOTE: The requirements applicable to construction work under this paragraph are identical to those set forth at §1910.178(l) of this chapter.
Under §1926.602(d), employees engaged in construction who use equipment covered by 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart O and the Powered Industrial Truck Standard (29 CFR 1910.178) must be trained in accordance with the requirements in §1910.178(l). However, §1910.178(a) states that the Powered Industrial Truck Standard does not apply "to vehicles intended primarily for earth moving...." Since skid-steer loaders are "intended primarily for earth moving," the training requirements in §1910.178(l) do not apply.1
However, 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2) states:
The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his [or her] work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.
Therefore, under §1926.21(b)(2), the employer is required to train the skid steer operators so that they can recognize and avoid unsafe conditions. As a practical matter, such training needs to be comprehensive enough to ensure that the operator is fully capable of safely handling the equipment in the type of conditions he/she will encounter at the site. The amount of training necessary to fulfill the requirement may be reduced based on the extent to which the operator has acquired the necessary knowledge and skill from prior experience (see the answer to Question 2, below).
Question (2): Section 1926.20(b)(4) provides that only those who are qualified through training or "experience" are allowed to operate equipment. In this context, what does "experienced" mean? If a worker has operated the equipment a number of times in the past, does that automatically mean they are "experienced" for purposes of this requirement?
Answer: No. Title 29 CFR 1926.20(b)(4) states:
The employer shall permit only those employees qualified by training or experience to operate equipment or machinery. [Emphasis added.]
The term "experience" in this provision is used in conjunction with the term "qualified." Where an operator, through prior experience, has acquired the knowledge and skill necessary to safely operate the equipment, the operator may be considered "qualified by...experience" for purposes of this provision. However, a history of having operated the equipment by itself does not necessarily mean that the operator knows how to safely and competently operate the equipment. The provision requires the operator to be "qualified." If the worker has operated the machinery in the past but has not acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to safely operate the equipment, the experience is not sufficient to make the employee "qualified."
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.
Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction
1See generally Volume 63 of the Federal Register at page 66255 (December 1, 1998). [ back to text ]