Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910; 1910.178(a)(4); 1910.178(l); 1917; 1917.43(b)(1); 1917.43(c)(5); 1918; 1918.65(b)(1); 1918.65(f)


This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any situation not delineated within the original correspondence.


December 21, 2004

Mr. John Luke
Federal Marine Terminals, Inc.
Erieside Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

Dear Mr. Luke:

Thank you for your June 10, 2004 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Program's (DEP) Office of Maritime Enforcement. Your letter has been referred to DEP's Office of General Industry Enforcement for an answer to your question regarding OSHA's powered industrial truck standards at 29 CFR 1910, 29 CFR 1917, and 29 CFR 1918. It is my understanding that you have discussed your letter with my staff, and your questions have beenrestated below for clarity.

Scenario 1: A number of facilities in the Marine Terminal or in Longshoring industries operate powered industrial trucks inside vessel holds. The audible back-up alarms on the powered industrial trucks have been found to generate noise levels between 110 to 130 db when used inside these vessel holds. In order to decrease noise levels within the vessel holds, facilities would like to install strobe lights on the powered industrial trucks. The audible back-up alarms would not be removed if one was originally installed, but the strobe light would be installed in addition to it.

Question 1: Does OSHA allow the installation of a strobe light under the above conditions in the Marine Terminal and Longshoring industries?

Reply: As mentioned in your letter, there are two marine cargo handling requirements, 29 CFR 1917.43(c)(5) and 29 CFR 1918.65(f) that prohibit safety devices from being removed or made inoperative except as otherwise provided in those sections. Both 29 CFR 1917.43(b)(1) and 29 CFR 1918.65(b)(1) provide for such exceptions. These standards require that modifications that might affect the vehicle's capacity or safety shall not be performed without either the manufacturer's prior written approval or the written approval of a professional engineer experienced with the equipment who has consulted with the manufacturer, if available. Therefore, provided the approval is obtained in accordance with these standards, then the installation of a strobe light would be allowed.

In addition, please note that operators may need refresher training and evaluation in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.178(l) since the installation of a strobe light may affect safe operation of the truck.

Scenario 2: In General Industry, some facilities that handle lumber and wood pulp use forklifts that were not originally equipped with audible back-up alarms. Facilities would like to install strobe lights on these forklifts, which were not initially fitted with an audible back-up alarm.

Question 2: Does OSHA allow the installation of a strobe light under the above conditions in General Industries?

Reply: Yes, but if addition of the strobe light affects the safe operation of the forklift, approval in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.178(a)(4) must be obtained. OSHA would consider the lack of manufacturer's approval to be a de minimis violation if the employer has obtained written approval from a qualified Registered Professional Engineer after receiving no response or a negative response from the powered industrial truck manufacturer. If the manufacturer's response was negative, then the engineer, prior to granting approval for the modification or addition, would need to perform a safety analysis and address all safety and/or structural issues contained in the manufacturer's disapproval. As previously stated, please note that operators may need refresher training and evaluation in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.178(l) since the installation of a strobe light may affect safe operation of the truck.

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 interpretations letters explain the 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 ourenforcement 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.

Sincerely,


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs



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