January 4, 2016

New Personal Transport Carrier Regs in Effect

A regulation approving the limited use of agricultural personnel transport carriers (PTCs) in California goes into effect January 1, 2016. General Industry Safety Orders §3441 has been amended at new subdivision (i) to create an exception for PTC use under certain circumstances.

Here is a brief summary of the new regulation:

•   Use of PTCs would be limited to employees installing, removing or maintaining irrigation pipe for low-lying row crops. No other employees are allowed to board or ride on PTCs.

•   Employees may ride in PTCs only in the furrowed area of fields while performing irrigation activities.

•   The slope of the fields where employees ride on a PTC may not exceed a 5% grade.

•   PTCs built prior to January 1, 2016, must be inspected and approved by a qualified person for structural integrity and design prior to the units being placed into service.

•   PTCs must be equipped with: 1) approved seat belts and seat cushions; 2) steps and handholds so that employees can maintain three-point contact while entering and exiting the platform; 3) a door, gate or safety chain at passenger entry/exit points. Additionally, PTCs must be equipped with an “effective and reliable” means by which passengers can communicate with the tractor operator.

•   PTCs must be constructed of steel strong enough to support anticipated loads.

•   Speed is limited to five miles per hour. Employees must exit the carrier whenever the tractor reaches the end of the row, and may reenter only after the tractor completes the turn.  Passengers are not be permitted to ride on the PTC when it is within 10 feet of a ditch, canal, retention pond, or other location that presents an overturn hazard.

•   Safety training for all employees using PTCs, including tractor operators, is required before the initial use and at least annually thereafter.

PTCs have been used for about two decades to transport workers in operations involving the installation and removal of irrigation piping, but their legality had been placed in doubt by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH or Cal-OSHA) since 2012. In response to a consolidated petition requesting that the Board develop general safety standards related to the use of PTCs, the Standards Board convened an advisory committee last May consisting of stakeholders, including Western Growers staff, to discuss a draft proposal. The regulation now brings PTCs into the specter of compliance provided that all requirements for use are met.

For additional information or questions, please contact Jason Resnick at (949) 885-2253.