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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.
September 14, 2005
Mr. Michael O. Foster
American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO
1300 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Dear Mr. Foster:
Thank you for your 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 a response to your inquiry regarding chocking of trailers at United States Postal Service (USPS) facilities. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question or scenario not delineated within your original correspondence. Your inquiry has been restated as a question below and background information has been included for clarity.
Background: 29 CFR 1910.178(k)(1), requires that "[t]he brakes of highway trucks shall be set and wheel chocks placed under the rear wheels to prevent the trucks from rolling while they are boarded with powered industrial trucks."
29 CFR 1910.178(m)(7), requires in part that "[b]rakes shall be set and wheel blocks shall be in place to prevent movement of trucks, trailers, or railroad cars while loading or unloading when the trailer is not coupled to a tractor."
Question: What is OSHA's current enforcement policy on chocking trailers with spring loaded brakes at USPS facilities?
Reply: For the purposes of this response we will assume that the vehicles which are the concern of your letter are those owned by the USPS. Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has regulations dealing with parking brakes on commercial motor vehicles for private-sector carriers, these regulation do not apply to the Federal Government, which includes the USPS (49 USC § 31132 (2)(B) and (3)(B)). Therefore, the OSHA standards mentioned above apply to USPS vehicles.
However, in light of the changes in technology since the promulgation of 29 CFR 1910.178(k)(1) and (m)(7), OSHA as a matter of policy will regard failure to use wheel chocks or blocks as a de minimis violation and no citation will be issued if alternative methods of preventing truck movement are used. These alternatives may include the use of dock lock mechanisms, dock monitoring systems, or other systems which will prevent the unintentional movement of trucks and trailers while being boarded with powered industrial trucks.
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 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