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.

April 24, 2012

Mr. Art Seely
Safety One Inc.
7144 Reynolds Drive
Sedalia, Colorado 8015

Dear Mr. Seely:

In your letter dated December 27, 2010, to OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP), you asked several questions about OSHA's standard for electric power generation, transmission, and distribution installations. Although your letter also referenced telecommunication applications, I understand that in communications with a member of my staff you clarified that your questions relate exclusively to 1910.269 applications.

This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your correspondence and your subsequent telephone and email communications with a member of my staff. We apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry. Your paraphrased scenario and questions, and our responses, follow.

Scenario 1: Your letter addressed several types of industrial soft-tracked crawlers, such as tracked over-the-snow vehicles, that are used for general industry electric utility field work.

Question 1: Do the training requirements of the general industry electric utility standard (§1910.269(a)(2)) include a requirement for periodic retraining in the procedures regarding the safe use of industrial soft-tracked crawlers?

Response: No, §1910.269 does not require retraining in the safe use of soft-tracked crawlers at any specific frequency. Rather, under §1910.269(a)(2)(iv), retraining is required when: (1) supervision and inspections indicate that the employee is not following safety-related work practices; (2) new technology, new types of equipment, or changes in procedures necessitate the use of safety-related work practices that are different from those the employee would normally use; or (3) the employee must use safety procedures that are not normally used in his or her regular job duties. OSHA considers tasks that an employee performs less often than once a year as triggering the requirement for retraining (see note following §1910.269(a)(2)(iv)(C)). So, for example, an employee who has not used a crawler in more than a year must have appropriate retraining before using the equipment. Similarly, an employee must receive retraining before operating a new type of crawler if he or she will need to use work practices that differ from those he or she normally uses.

Please note that additional training requirements may apply under OSHA's powered industrial trucks standard at 29 CFR 1910.178. As I explained in my letter to you dated May 3, 2010, industrial soft-tracked crawlers are not considered powered industrial trucks under §1910.178 if they are used for earth moving or over-the-road hauling. (See §1910.178(a)(1)) However, §1910.178 applies generally to fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines. For more instruction about complying with operator training standards for powered industrial trucks, see: [CPL 02-01-028 Compliance Assistance for the Powered Industrial Truck Operator Training Standards]. Also, for additional information see OSHA's Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklift) eTool at: [http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/pit/index.html].

Question 2: What are the retraining requirements for environmental hazards, such as hazards associated with work in extremely cold weather areas?

Response: Where job-related hazards include environmental hazards, such as your example of work in very cold weather (which presents the possibility of hypothermia, frostbite, and breakthrough on snow or ice), the employer must ensure that employees are retrained in safe work practices related to those hazards if any of the triggers for retraining in §1910.269(a)(2)(iv) apply (see response to the previous question). For example, under §1910.269(a)(2)(iv)(C), an employee who does not normally work in extreme cold, e.g., has not worked in those conditions in more than a year, must be retrained in how to address cold-weather hazards before working in that environment.

Also, please note requirements for first aid training in §1910.269(b). An employee trained in first aid will need to be retrained if he or she has not actually used his or her first aid training over the course of the prior year.

Question 3: What qualification criteria apply to instructors for safety training at electric utility companies? Would OSHA investigate instructor qualifications in an accident investigation and would OSHA cite an employer for knowingly using an unqualified trainer?

Response: Section 1910.269 does not set criteria for the knowledge, skills, or competency of persons employers use to provide training. Instead, it is up to the employer to ensure that the training, no matter who provides it, results in employee proficiency in the necessary work practices (see § 190.269(a)(2)(vi)).

Question 4: When employers use instructors to provide training required by the OSHA standards, the instructors sometimes state that the safety training and the certification provided to employees is valid for a finite time period; e.g., 24 or 36 months. Would OSHA cite an employer for failing to ensure that employees are retrained at the end of the instructor-defined period of time?

Response: An employer is subject to an OSHA citation if it fails to ensure employees are retrained in the circumstances in which retraining is required under §1910.269(a)(2)(iv) (as described previously). That provision does not require the employer to ensure employees are retrained on the schedule established by the trainer.

Question 5: Are there are any material differences in training requirements for smaller over-the-snow tracked vehicles, e.g., two-passenger ATVs or commercial-sized snowmobiles, which are used to transport employees or equipment to remote work locations?

Response: The general training requirement in §1910.269(a)(2)(i) is the same irrespective of the vehicle in question and provides that "[e]mployees shall...be trained in... any...safety practices...that are related to their work and are necessary for their safety." Because the standard requires employees to be trained in the safety-related work practices and procedures that pertain to their specific jobs, employees will need to receive training specific to the type of vehicle they will be using. To the extent that using a smaller, faster crawler demands the use of safety practices different from the safety practices used for the larger vehicles, employees using the smaller equipment must receive specific training in the safe work practices that must be followed to use that equipment.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with safety and health standards promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. However, this letter is not itself a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. 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.


Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs