Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.178(l)(1)(i)

January 26, 1998

Mr. Ken Broadstreet
Safety and Training Supervisor
Macwhyte Company
P.O. Box 1419
Kenosha, Wisconsin 53141-1419

Dear Mr. Broadstreet:

This is in response to your July 29, 1997, letter requesting compliance assistance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concerning the use of a hearing impaired (deaf) forklift operator. We regret the delay in responding to your inquiry.

Your letter expressed your company's concerns with several potential hazards associated with a hearing impaired forklift operator and inquired about OSHA's position concerning the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for Powered Industrial Trucks B56.1, operator qualifications requirements, and the possible use of the general duty clause.

The current OSHA powered industrial truck standard at [29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1)(i)] requires that "Only trained and authorized operators shall be permitted to operate a powered industrial truck."      (Correction 02/16/99) ["The employer shall ensure that each power industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in this paragraph (l)."]      The standard does not address operator physical requirements. You have pointed out that ANSI standard B56.1, paragraph 4.18, which sets forth operator requirements for powered industrial trucks, would require employers to assure that operators are "qualified as to visual, auditory, and mental ability to operate the equipment safely." OSHA has not incorporated this ANSI requirement as an OSHA standard under section 6 of the Occupational Safety and Heath Act (OSH Act).

As you are aware, section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, usually referred to as the "general duty clause," requires each employer to pro