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.

November 26, 2012

Mr. Duane Rosemeier
857 W. Douglas St.
Freeport, IL 61032-4014

Dear Mr. Rosemeier:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. You had general concerns regarding OSHA standards applicable to material handling, particularly using powered industrial trucks. We apologize for the delay in our response. Your paraphrased scenario and our response follow:

Question: Does OSHA have regulations that specify that forklifts used in general industry are required to have flashing lights and/or back-up beepers?

Response: OSHA does not specify that powered industrial trucks must be equipped with flashing lights and/or back-up beepers. OSHA's regulation for Powered Industrial Trucks,§1910.178 (h)(2), states: "[w]here general lighting is less than 2 lumens per square foot, auxiliary directional lighting shall be provided on the truck." [Emphasis added] The precursor to §1910.178 is "American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, Part II, B56.1-1969", which is incorporated by reference as specified in §1910.6, except for vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling. Currently, the Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation (ITSDF) manages the B56 Standards committee and its subcommittees. The latest version of ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2009, Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks, Warning Device 4.15.2 states: "[t]he user shall determine if operating conditions require the truck to be equipped with additional sound-producing or visual (such as lights or blinkers) devices, and be responsible for providing and maintaining such devices."

While §1910.178 standard does not specifically require flashing lights or back-up beepers, employers have a duty under the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. § 654 (a)(1), also known as the General Duty Clause, to furnish employment and a place of employment, free from recognized hazards that are causing or a likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees, where employees are exposed to hazards, including but not limited to, struck by, caught-in-between and crushing by the forklift. B56.1-2009 shows that industry recognizes this hazard and that equipping trucks with sound-producing and visual devices are feasible means to abate this hazard. An employer whose workplace presents this hazard and has not taken feasible steps to mitigate this hazard may be in violation of the General Duty Clause.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA's requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our letters of interpretation do not create new or additional requirements but rather explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. From time to time, letters are affected when the Agency updates a standard, a legal decision impacts a standard, or changes in technology affect the interpretation. To assure that you are using the correct information and guidance, please consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Enforcement Programs at (202) 693-2100.


Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs