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.

June 27, 2011

Mr. Bob Pfister
Safety Training and Consulting, Inc.
P.O. Box 918
Jasper, IN 47546

Dear Mr. Pfister:

Thank you for your July 7, 2009, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter has been referred to OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP) for a clarification of OSHA's Powered Industrial Trucks standard, 29 CFR 1910.178. This constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence.

Your scenario and questions are paraphrased and our responses follow.

Scenario: Our clients use a vehicle called a trackmobile to move rail freight cars on rail sittings within a private rail yard, factory, or industrial worksite. The trackmobile is not meant for long-distance rail movement. After consulting with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), it appears that the trackmobile would only fall under the jurisdiction of the FRA if it were travelling on FRA tracks. The term "powered industrial truck" as defined by American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B56.1 is a "mobile, power propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack, or tier material." A track mobile used to move freight cars on a private rail-sitting would seem to fall under the ASME 56.1's definition. It is understood by our clients that training would need to be performed under the instructions in the operator's manual for this vehicle, regardless of the OSHA requirements.

Question #1: Are the training requirements in 29 CFR 1910.178 applicable to the trackmobile, even though it has little in common with what is commonly thought of as a powered industrial truck (forklift)?

Reply: No, OSHA does not consider a vehicle such as a trackmobile to be a powered industrial truck and in turn is exempt from 29 CFR 1910.178(a)(1), which states: "This section contains safety requirements relating to fire protection, design, maintenance, and use of fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines. This section does not apply to compressed air or nonflammable compressed gas-operated industrial trucks, nor to farm vehicles, nor to vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling."

In your scenario, you make reference to your client's understanding that training would need to be performed under the instructions in the operator's manual for the trackmobile, regardless of the OSHA requirements. While OSHA has no regulatory authority for the trackmobile under 29 CFR 1910.178, we do encourage employers and employees to follow the manufacturer's recommendations while operating equipment.

Question #1A: Are yard tractors (similar to a semi tractor used for hauling freight) which are used to jockey trailers on a private factory or industrial site, which are not licensed for interstate commerce or highway use and never leave a private lot, considered a powered industrial truck? In addition, what if these vehicles become properly licensed and leave the lot, would they become over-the-road vehicles and be exempt from 29 CFR 1910.178? What if they were brought back to the yard and used once again to spot trailers?

Reply: Yard tractors that are not designed to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) specifications for over-the-road use would be considered a powered industrial truck per 29 CFR 1910.178(a)(1), and the definition of a powered industrial truck outlined in American National Standards Institute (ANSI) B56.1 – 1969. ANSI B56.1-1969 was one of the source national consensus standards for OSHA's Powered Industrial Trucks standard. Vehicles that are approved for over-the-road use by the DOT would not be considered powered industrial vehicles and would be exempt from 29 CFR 1910.178.

If a vehicle that was approved for over the road use by DOT was brought back to a private factory or industrial site to jockey trailers once again, the yard tractor still would not be considered a powered industrial truck. It is the design of the vehicle that is the determining factor of whether or not it is considered a powered industrial truck, rather than where it is used.

Question #2: Is OSHA citing earth moving vehicles such as farm tractors, bobcats, and backhoes that have been altered to accept forks under the general duty clause, or are they citing 29 CFR 1910.178, even though they are exempt from the standard?

Reply: No, if the vehicle is designed as earth moving equipment with the ability to accept forks as designed by the original equipment manufacturer, it would not be considered a powered industrial truck within the scope of 29 CFR 1910.178. However, there may be other OSHA standards that might be applicable to earth moving equipment that have been altered to accept forks, such as 29 CFR 1926.602, Material Handling Equipment, or the general duty clause.

For your information, OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs issued a letter of interpretation, dated March 7, 2000, which further clarifies the scope of 29 CFR 1910.178; the letter is attached for your review. In addition, it can be found at the following link on osha.gov: www.osha.gov/interpretations

Question #3: Do golf cars used by maintenance and other personnel around industrial worksites fall under 29 CFR 1910.178, if they are hauling freight?

Reply: ANSI/National Golf Car Manufacturers Association (NGCMA) Z130.1-2004 defines a golf car as, "a vehicle used to convey a person or persons and equipment to play the game of golf in an area designated as a golf course." Golf cars are considered by design to be recreational vehicles and are exempt from 29 CFR 1910.178. Again, it is the design of the vehicle that is the determining factor of whether or not it is considered a powered industrial truck, rather than the manner in which it is utilized.

Finally, please consider that national consensus standards and manufacturers' recommendations can sometimes be relevant to a general duty clause citation in the sense that the consensus standard and manufacturers' recommendations may be used as evidence of industry hazard recognition and the availability of feasible means of abatement. The general duty clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, is violated if an employer has failed to furnish a workplace that is free from recognized hazards causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The general duty clause is used where there is no standard that applies to the particular hazards involved.

It should be noted that Section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act) encourages States to develop and operate their own job safety and health programs. There are currently 22 States and jurisdictions operating complete State plans (covering both the private sector and State and local government employees) and five which cover public employees only. While many State Plans adopt OSHA standards identically, your clients should check with the State Plans in which they conduct business to determine if those States have additional or more stringent requirements. For more information on OSHA-approved State Plans, please visit http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html

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.


Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs