March 9, 2004
Central Maine Power Co.
740 Main Street
Lewiston, Maine 04240
Dear Mr. Wilson:
This is in response to your correspondence dated January 29, 2004, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. 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 specific questions regarding the portions of 29 CFR 1910.269 related to vehicles with obstructed views to the rear and the requirement for reverse signal alarms. Your paraphrased inquiries and our replies follow.
Question 1: Whether most of our people work alone or not, are we required to have audible reverse alarms on our vehicles with obstructed rear views when operating the vehicles on an off-highway jobsite? Does working alone require a reverse alarm?
Response: The vehicle is required to have an audible reverse alarm or there must be another designated employee to signal when it is safe to back up if employees are subject to the hazards created by the moving vehicle. The employees exposed to the hazard need not be employees of the same employer. Therefore, if an employee is working alone, but there are one or more employees of another employer present in the area, then the provisions of 29 CFR 1910.269(p)(1)(ii)(A) and (B) would apply. If an employee is working entirely alone, then no audible reverse alarm or signaling employee would be required.
Question 2: Would a high voltage substation be considered an "off-highway jobsite"?
Response: Any jobsite not on the public right-of-way would be considered to be an "off-highway" jobsite. Therefore, if employees of your employer, or employees of other contractors are present, then vehicles with obstructed views to the rear would have to meet the provisions of 29 CFR 1910.269(p)(1)(ii)(A) and (B). The protections of the Occupational Safety and Health Act do not extend to any members of the general public walking outside of the gates of the substation.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs