Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.178


December 12, 2002

Mr. Gary E. Cross
Dunaway & Cross
Suite 800
1700 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

Dear Mr. Cross:

Thank you for your August 7, 2000 letter, and Matthew Hall's December 19, 2000 letter, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). We apologize for the delay in responding to your letters. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any situation not delineated within your original correspondence. You requested clarification of OSHA's June 28, 2000 letter to Julie Nussbaum of J .J. Keller & Associates, "by stating directly that neither section 5(a)(1) nor any other OSHA requirement will support a citation for using a body belt rather than a body harness on powered industrial trucks used in general industry."

There are no specific OSHA general industry standards that either require the use of body harnesses or prohibit the use of body belts to protect personnel against falls from elevated powered industrial truck platforms. We do want to point out, however, that under Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are required to protect workers from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to employees. In this case, falling from an elevated powered industrial truck platform would be considered a recognized hazard. As such, OSHA would require a body belt and lanyard for protecting employees from falling from elevated powered industrial truck platforms. Employers who fail to provide this minimum protection would be cited under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act.

As stated in our June 28, 2000 letter, OSHA's newer standards which address fall hazards call for the use of body harnesses rather than body belts when used as part of a personal fall arrest system. OSHA has determined in these rulemakings that there are hazards associated with body belts that are greatly reduced by the substitution of body harnesses. Accordingly, we believe that body harnesses rather than body belts are the appropriate form of fall protection for employees working on elevated powered industrial truck platforms. While OSHA strongly encourages employers to use body harnesses, we will not issue citations to employers that use body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system where OSHA has not specifically prohibited their use.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope this provides the clarification you were seeking and apologize for any confusion the earlier documents may have caused. As this letter demonstrates, OSHA's re-examination of an issue may result in the clarification or correction of previously stated enforcement guidance. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but 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
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


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents