We are an agribusiness specializing in row crops. Has Cal/OSHA amended Section 3441 to permit the use of devices attached to the three-point hitch of tractors to transport employees?
In 2011, as the result of a joint inspection by Cal/OSHA, California labor law officials and others, a device referred to as a Personnel Transport Carrier (PTC) was observed with workers on it and being transported to a worksite at/within a row crop field.
The PTC was mounted on the three-point hitch of a tractor, placing the workers on the same conveyance as the tractor’s operator. The division determined this was a violation of Title 8, Section 3441(a)(2)(B), as only the driver was to be on the tractor.
On July 8 and 11, 2013, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board received petitions from Wesley Selvidge, partner, Buttonwillow Land and Cattle Co., and Darren Filkins of Wm. Bolthouse Farms, Inc., respectively. The petitioners stated that PTCs had been used for 25 years without a recorded incident.
The petitions were granted and an advisory committee convened. A proposal was developed revising Sections 3437 and 3441. The board staff prepared the regulation for public hearing.
On April 16, 2015, the proposal was presented for public comment. The proposed regulation was approved by the Standards Board and submitted to the Secretary of State on September 14, 2015. The regulation takes effect on January 1, 2016.
Section 3437 defines terms found within the Agricultural Operations regulation. Definitions for the terms ballast, low-lying row crops, pipe trailer, and tractor-mounted personnel transport carrier have been adopted to clarify the intent of the new regulations in Section 3441(i).
An exception to permit the use of PTCs is now included in Section 3441(a)(2)(B).
The following are highlights of the new requirements of Section 3441 for the use of a PTC:
• PTCs shall be used only how and where specified by Section 3441(i).
• Seat belts shall be provided for all passenger seating.
• Seat cushions of specified dimensions shall be provided on all seating.
• Entry/exits shall have a safety chain, gate or door.
• Effective and reliable means of communication shall be maintained between the driver and passengers.
• Sufficient ballast shall be provided to prevent upending the tractor when carrying passengers.
• The PTC is to be inspected before use.
• Training is to be given to all affected employees.
• The PTC shall be designed and constructed meeting specified criteria.
• Only equipment necessary for the intended work will be carried on the PTC.
• All carried equipment will be stored under the seats.
These are just a few of the new requirements dealing with PTCs. The complete regulation can be viewed at www.dir.ca.gov/oshsb/Agricultural_Personnel_Transport_Carriers.html.
The exception permitting the use of PTCs has been included in Article 25, Industrial Trucks, Tractors, Haulage Vehicles, and Earthmoving Equipment, Section 3664(b).
The Labor Law Helpline is a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.