243 FW 3
Heavy Duty Motor Equipment

Supersedes 243 FW 3, FWM 444, 04/01/04

Date:  December 21, 2012

Series: Occupational Safety and Health

Part 243: Motor Vehicle and Motor Equipment Safety

Originating Office: Division of Safety and Health



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3.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?


A. This chapter describes the safety requirements for heavy duty motor equipment. Heavy duty motor equipment includes dozers, motor graders, and tractors, as well as amphibious vehicles with a curb weight over 1,900 pounds. See 243 FW 1 Table 1-2 for additional examples.


B. Use this chapter in conjunction with the other chapters in Part 243.


3.2 What is the scope of this chapter? See 243 FW 1 for information about the applicability of all the chapters in Part 243.


3.3 Are there any restrictions for when employees may use heavy equipment? Employees must not use heavy equipment at night except for during fires or similar emergencies.


3.4 What heavy equipment needs a reverse signal device?


A. Motor equipment must be equipped with a reverse signal device if you can’t see the rear, and there is not a designated observer available to signal when it is safe to back up the equipment.


B. The reverse signal device must:


(1) Be audible and distinct enough to be heard over prevailing conditions,


(2) Operate automatically when beginning to back up and continuing through the entire backward movement, and


(3) Either be continuous or intermittent (not to exceed 3 second intervals).


3.5 When are guards necessary?


A. Equipment with belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, sprockets, spindles, drums, flywheels, chains, or other reciprocating, rotating, or moving parts must have guards if someone could be exposed to the parts or they could otherwise create a hazard.


B. All hot surfaces of equipment, including exhaust pipes or other lines, must be guarded or insulated to prevent injury and fire.


C. The operator must direct equipment exhausts or discharges so that they don’t endanger any person or obstruct the operator's view.


D. There must be platforms, footwalks, steps, handholds, guardrails, and toe boards on

machinery and equipment when it is necessary for safe footing and access ways.


E. Never remove guards and safety appliances or devices from machinery or equipment, or modify them in any way to make them ineffective unless you are doing it to make immediate repairs, lubrications, or adjustments, and then only after turning off the power (see 241 FW 8). Replace guards and devices immediately after repairing or adjusting equipment and before turning it on.  


3.6 Does land clearing equipment have specific requirements? To protect the operator from falling or being hit by flying objects, all bulldozers or similar equipment used in clearing operations must have guards, shields, canopies, and grills appropriate to the nature of the operations.


A. When they have grid or mesh, the openings between the elements of the grid/mesh can’t be any larger than 1.5 in. (38 mm) in diameter. The protection must be installed so that it doesn’t become a hazard if the equipment flips on its side or entirely over.


B. The overhead cover on the canopy structure may be made of a solid material. See 29 CFR 1926.1003.


3.7 What about crawlers? Crawlers with cable winches must have screen protection that meets industry standards for rear screen barriers to protect the operator if the cable breaks. Standards are based on the date the crawler was manufactured. See 29 CFR 1926.1433(b).


3.8 When are rollover protective structures (ROPS) and seatbelts required?


A. ROPS and seat belts must be installed on:


(1) Crawler and rubber-tired tractors, such as dozers, push and pull tractors, winch tractors, mowers, and water tank trucks where the tank is not as high as the cab;


(2) Off-the-highway, self-propelled pneumatic-tired earth movers, such as trucks, pans, scrapers, bottom dumps, end dumps, and motor graders; and


(3) Self-propelled construction equipment, such as frontend loaders, backhoes, and rollers.


B. Inspect seat belts annually and replace them if you find defects, flaws, or excessive wear in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, which you can find in the equipment’s operator or service manual.


C. ROPS are not required on:


(1) Crane-mounted draglines, rollers, and compactors of the tandem, steel-wheeled and self-propelled pneumatic-tired type;


(2) Self-propelled rubber-tired lawn and garden tractors under 20 drawbar horsepower;


(3) Steel rollers used exclusively for asphalt, bituminous surface work, and preparation of paving sub-base materials; and


(4) Cranes, draglines, or equipment on which the operator's cab and boom rotate as a unit.


3.9 What are there requirements for ROPS? Each ROPS must have a:


A. Manufacturer's or fabricator's name and address;


B. ROPS model number, if the manufacturer provides it;


C. Machine make, model, or series number for which the structure was designed;


D. Certification that meets the American Welding Society Standards D2.0, Part II, or equivalent; and


E. Two-piece seat belts and anchorages.


3.10 When are slow-moving vehicle emblems necessary? You must:


A. Put slow-moving vehicle emblems on wheeled tractors and all other units that travel public roads at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less (see 29 CFR 1910.145 for requirements on what and how to mount them).


B. Affix slow-moving vehicle emblems and corner reflectors to towed utility carts and wagons that are large enough to block a clear view of the tractor. The tractor towing such devices must have rear view mirrors.


3.11 What protective equipment is necessary for Service-owned or leased bush hogs and flail-type mowers? This type of equipment may only be drawn by tractors with protective equipment designed to prevent propelled objects from striking the operator.


A. The tractor must have a totally enclosed cab with rear windows in the closed position, or for tractors without an enclosed cab, a rear barrier with a minimum of ¼-inch thick sheet of transparent, impact resistant polycarbonate plastic.


B. Tractors used for site clearing must have a woven or welded wire screen with ¼-inch wire diameter and openings no larger than 1 inch AND a polycarbonate barrier that is either clamped or strapped to the ROPS. Do not bolt or weld this rear barrier to the ROPS as that can void the ROPS certification.


C. The overhead cover must not be less than 1/8-inch steel plate, or ¼-inch woven wire mesh with openings not greater than 1 inch, or equivalent.


D. Make provisions to remove or move the plastic sheet so you can clean it when necessary.


E. The glass in the cab must be safety glass.


F. Operators of side cutter mowers must have protection equivalent to that described in the sections above, such as side shields or similar protective systems.


3.12 What personal protective equipment (PPE) is required?


A. When operating crawler tractors with open cabs, you must wear dust masks approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and eye protection. If you suspect or confirm (through a sound level meter) excessive noise exposure, you must wear hearing protection (see 242 FW 3). You don’t have to wear dust masks or eye protection in air-conditioned, positive-pressure enclosed cabs.


B. You must wear high visibility vests and hardhats when required or in accordance with 241 FW 3. You don’t have to wear a hard hat inside an enclosed cabEnclosed cabs are those that completely enclose the operator to prevent immediate exposure to outside elements, and that have windows made of safety glass and door(s).


3.13 What are the requirements when you use a spotter? Spotters must maintain a direct line-of-sight or have some other way to communicate with the equipment operator. They must wear the correct PPE described in 241 FW 3, including a high visibility vest.


3.14 What other safety requirements are associated with heavy duty equipment?


A. Provide ample clearance for personnel between any solid material and the tail swing of a dragline, shovel, or crane. Use barriers, barricades, signs, or hazard tape to prevent access to pinch points (e.g., space between machine and object/dirt mound, etc.) whenever feasible.


B. When Service equipment with parts or accessories lowered by gravity or hydraulic levers, such as shovels, buckets, dump beds, and bulldozer blades is shut down, it:


(1) Must have those parts or accessories resting on the ground or bed frames and the controls in gear unless the manufacturer's instructions state otherwise or the equipment is sufficiently locked out to prevent it from falling if there is a failure, and


(2) The brakes should be secured and the wheels blocked if the equipment is on an incline.


C. If you make an improvement to a tractor’s stability by wide mounting the wheels, adding wheel weights, or adding dual rear wheels, the improvements must be in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications.


D. For training, the equipment instructor must have a "buddy" seat. Trainees must not ride on drawbars, fenders, or towed equipment unless a seat is provided for such a purpose.


E. Draw bars must be hitched at least 13 inches (but less than 17 inches) off the ground. The higher a load is hitched, the easier it is for the tractor to overturn.


3.15 What are the training requirements for heavy equipment operators? At a minimum, employees using the equipment must comply with the training in 321 FW 1.


For more information about this policy, contact the Division of Safety and Health. For more information about this Web site, contact Krista Bibb in the Division of Policy and Directives Management.


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