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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 16

Motor Vehicle Safety

Instruction: This chapter is revised to clarify required training and personal protective equipment.  In addition, the chapter reflects organizational changes.

1.  Purpose. 

A.  To specify the minimum Occupational Safety and Health Program (OSH Program) requirements for the safe operation of motor vehicles by employees and volunteers of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the performance of official Government duties.

2.  Scope.

A.  This chapter applies to:

(1)  Any employee or volunteer who operates a motor vehicle in the performance of official duties.

(2)  Motor vehicles including: all vehicles owned or leased by the USGS; privately owned vehicles; and other vehicles such as trucks, drilling rigs, forklifts, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles.

3.  Authorities/References.

A.  41 CFR 102.34, Motor Vehicle Management.

B.  40 U.S. Code Section, Section 606, Regulations Related to Operation (Motor Vehicle).

C.  49 CFR Part 383, Commercial Driver’s License Standards; Requirements and Penalties.

D.  Executive Order, October 1, 2009, Federal Leadership on Reducing Text Messaging
While Driving.

E.  Section 211(j) of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 as amended [68 Stat. 1128].

F.  U.S. Office of Personnel Management Operating Manual for Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions, General Policies and Instructions, Section E.9.(f) Motor Vehicle Standards.

G.  SM 409.1, Personal Property - Vehicle Management.

H.  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

I.  Motor Vehicle Safety (OSHA).

J.  Traffic Safety Digest (NHTSA).

K.  Department of Transportation, Motor Carrier requirements.

4.  Requirements.  

A.  General.

(1)  Electronic equipment(mobile phone, tablet, or Global Positioning System (GPS), text messaging) use in vehicles (owned, leased, or rented) must be restricted as follows:

(a)  The driver of a Government vehicle or a privately owned vehicle, while on official Government business, must ensure compliance with all State and local laws governing the use of cellular telephones and similar devices while operating a motor vehicle. Hands-free cellular devices may be used when permitted by law. Use of cellular telephones and/or similar devices not equipped for hands-free operation is prohibited while operating a DOI provided vehicle .

(b)  Text messaging (reading, typing, or sending) is prohibited when driving Government vehicles or privately owned vehicles while on official Government business. 

(2)  While operating/riding a motorcycle on official Government business, Department of Transportation approved helmets must be worn. 

(3)  All accidents involving a motor vehicle must be reported as required in SM 445-2-H.7.

(4)  All work-related vehicle accidents must be investigated and analyzed.  Appropriate action must be taken to minimize future incidents.

(5)  Appropriate safety features must be included in purchase orders and lease agreements for non-General Services Administration vehicles.

(6)  Motor vehicles should be inspected prior to use (visual) and must be inspected annually in order to maintain them in safe and operable conditions.  At a minimum, annual safety inspections must consist of the items in Appendix E, Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Checklist.  Deficiencies that impair safety of operations must be corrected before returning the vehicle to an operational status.  Organizations can satisfy the inspection requirement through participation in an established annual state inspection program.  Documentation must be maintained at the local level.

(7)  All field vehicles used to transport cargo must be equipped to secure equipment and materials from moving during transport.  Securing options may include equipping a vehicle with a properly designed safety screen installed between the passenger compartment and cargo area or using a cargo net or tie down straps/chains to prevent objects from moving.  A securely mounted and easily accessible fire extinguisher is required to be on-board.

(8)  For large vehicles and vehicles that pull trailers, personnel shall complete hands-on vehicle maneuverability training prior to operation to ensure they have the skills needed to operate the vehicle safely.

(9)  When performing towing operations, the weight must not exceed the manufacture’s maximum listed towing capacity.

(10)  Employees and volunteers who operate a Government or privately owned motor vehicle while on official Government business must:

(a)  Possess valid state/international licenses for the class of vehicle being operated, certifying license validity in writing annually, and maintain their Federal Motor Carrier Medical Permit, as applicable.  Employees and volunteers must notify their supervisors if their drivers’ licenses are suspended, restricted, revoked, canceled, or if they have been otherwise disqualified from holding licenses; i.e., unable to pass medical screening.  Appendix A, Annual Motor Vehicle Operator’s Certification Form, may be used for this purpose.  Employees shall also inform their supervisor of any tickets or driving violation that occur while driving official business (example, speeding ticket, use of mobile phone while driving, etc.).

(b)  Have supervisor’s approval to operate the vehicle.  The supervisor must ensure that the employee or volunteer has the ability to safely operate the vehicle in the operational environment assigned.

(c)  Be at least 18 years old to operate a motor vehicle.

(d)  Not exceed 10 hours of driving time (behind the wheel) during a 16-hour duty period.  This 10-hour period includes rest and meal breaks.  Management may place further limitations on the above hours of duty and/or driving time due to safety factors; e.g., fatigue, weather, distance, and illness.

(e)  Ensure that all vehicle occupants wear seat belts while the vehicle is in motion, on or off the highway, for general and commercial vehicles.

(f)  Not operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including prescription medications that may affect the ability to drive safely) nor while sick or suffering from excessive fatigue or emotional stress.
(g)  Observe all Federal, state, and local traffic regulations.

(h)  Be licensed in accordance with regulations administered by the Federal Highway Administration and the state when transporting minors.

(i)  Complete initial and refresher training no less than once every 3 years.  This training should include the following: information regarding potential penalties (see 49 CFR 383 and 391) for failure to operate motor vehicles in a safe and lawful manner, and concepts of defensive driving; physical and mental conditions that affect driving; effects of drugs and alcohol on the driver, including defense against the impaired driver; adjusting to a variety of driving conditions and environments; techniques for backing safely; and the safety risks associated with the use of electronic equipment (e.g., text messaging) while driving.  The National Safety Council and American Automobile Association Defensive Driver course content meets the intent of this training.  Alternative training must be coordinated through the respective Regional Safety Manager or Office of Management Services Safety Staff and approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager prior to instruction.

For anyone driving a government or privately owned vehicle (GOV/POV) regularly as a primary duty on an on-going daily basis, e.g., shuttle bus, field vehicle, or personally owned sedan/truck for field activities, initial and refresher training applies.

Exception.  Initial and refresher training is not required for general purpose rental car use while on official travel.  Driving rental cars is not a primary job duty.  Furthermore, employees using rental cars when on travel comply with the same requirement of the state; e.g., meet state requirements for a valid license inclusive of training on rules of the road, vision checks, etc.  Local management has the discretion to be more stringent and require defensive driver training for general purpose rental car operators.

(j)  Have their driving records validated by the state (international-licensed drivers exempted) and/or National Driver Register upon employment and whenever management deems it advisable to review.  This responsibility is delegated to local organizational managers and supervisors and may be re-delegated as deemed appropriate.

B.  Commercial Motor Vehicles and Specialized Vehicles.

(1)  In addition to the requirements in 16.4.A. above, employees or volunteers who operate commercial motor vehicles (having a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds or towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pound or more), hauling hazardous material requiring the vehicle to be placarded, or operating a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more people, including the driver, must:

(a)  Possess only one state commercial driver’s license.

(b)  Pass Federal Motor Carrier Medical Screening.

(c)  Possess a valid medical examiner’s certificate, required by Federal Motor Carrier License requirements.

(d)  Be at least 21 years old.

(e)  Notify supervisor if driver’s license is suspended, revoked, restricted, canceled, or if employee has been disqualified from holding a state or international license.

(f)  Be licensed in accordance with regulations administered by the Federal Highway Administration and the state when transporting children.

(2)  Initial and refresher specialized vehicle training must include a review of the operator manual and successful completion of supervised “hands-on” exercises.  

(3)  Employees and volunteers who operate vehicles that require specialized skills or knowledge (e.g., forklifts, drill rigs, snowmobiles, skid steers, and other vehicles with greater than 1-ton capacity, or vehicles towing watercraft, snowmobiles, or other large equipment) must obtain supervisory authorization and have the appropriate training prior to vehicle operation.  In lieu of training, supervisors may authorize operation of specialized vehicles if the employee or volunteer is licensed to operate.

C.  Off-Highway Vehicles.

(1)  Off-Highway Vehicles are vehicles that are not designed to travel streets or highways. 
Employees and volunteers must meet the following minimum requirements in order to operate an off-highway vehicle:

(a)  Complete a Formal Risk Assessment.  Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that a formal risk assessment has been prepared and approved for operation of an off-highway vehicle.  (See Appendix B, Levels of Risk and Use of the Risk Decision Authority Matrix.)

(b)  Training.  Each off-highway vehicle operator must complete an operator training course developed by a manufacturer or other appropriate source, and taught by an individual who has successfully completed an off-highway vehicle instructor course in order to qualify for off-highway vehicle authorization.  Courses must be specific to each vehicle class, to include field instruction, and be documented.  Refresher training, operator evaluation - check ride, is required every 3 years, at a minimum.  Refresher training is strongly encouraged for infrequent operators (less than 24 annual ride hours) and when new equipment is placed in service.  Training is available from employees who have completed an off-highway vehicle instructor course or through private vendors.

(c)  Fieldwork Procedures.  All off-highway vehicle operators must follow fieldwork procedures.  (Reference Safety and Health for Field Operations, Handbook SM 445-3-H.)  At a minimum, off-highway vehicle operators must:

(i)  Use a “buddy system” for all fieldwork, when required by a Field Risk Assessment.

(ii)  Use a check-out/check-in system.

(iii)  Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

(2)  Personal Protective Equipment.

(a)  All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs).  Operators and passengers must wear the following personal protective equipment:

(i)  A helmet meeting the standards of the Department of Transportation, the Snell Memorial Foundation, Inc., or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  Helmets must be fastened.  Exception:  When a shoulder and lap belt is used in an UTV, on rural landscape or maintenance service, the use of a helmet is not required.

(ii)  A face shield, impact-resistant goggles, or impact resistant glasses or sunglasses meeting the standard, ANSI Z87.1 American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices.

(iii)  Full-fingered gloves.

(iv)  Long-sleeved shirt and long trousers.

(v)  Over-the-ankle protective boots.

(vi)  Clothing prudent for the conditions and terrain.  This may include additional gear depending on the weather conditions, hazards, and environmental issues.

(b)  Off Road Motorcycle.  In addition to the personal protective equipment required in section 16.4.C.(2)(a) of this chapter, kneepads, shin pads, and elbow pads are required.

(c)  Snowmobile.  In addition to the personal protective equipment required in section 16.4.C.(2)(a), a facemask, appropriate gloves, snowsuit, and snowmobile boots are required.

(d)  In addition to the supervisor, a safety professional must also approve the purchase of personal protective equipment.  (Reference Personal Protective Equipment, SM 445-2-H.26.)
(3)  Employees and volunteers must not operate 3-wheeled off-highway vehicles.

(4)  Off-highway vehicles must be purchased and maintained with an approved flame arresting exhaust system.

(5)  Off-highway vehicles must be purchased with a roll over protection structure (ROPS) and seat belts.  When these options are available they must be incorporated into the vehicle and all vehicle occupants must wear seat belts while the vehicle is in motion. 

(6)  Items carried on off-highway vehicles (e.g., scientific equipment, gear, spray tanks, and firearms) must be attached or affixed to the off-highway vehicle in a manner which precludes the items from becoming entangled during operation.  All guns must be in the unloaded condition when transported on an off-highway vehicle.  If the off-highway vehicle has a roll over protection structure, any attachment device must not compromise the structural integrity (e.g., do not drill into the roll over protection structure).    

(7)  The off-highway vehicle manufacturer’s maximum weight rating for utility and cargo racks must not be exceeded.

(8)  Off-highway vehicles must be properly secured for transport using a minimum of two (2) tie-down straps with a working load limit of at least 50 percent of the weight of the off-highway vehicle.

(9)  Fire extinguishers and first aid kits must be readily available when using off-highway vehicles.

(10)  Field Risk Assessment.

(a)  A field risk assessment must be documented in the event of any significant change in weather, terrain, or circumstance.  Significant changes include:

(i)  Weather.  Rain, snow, hail, ice storm, and electrical storm.

(ii)  Terrain.  Mudslide, rockslide, washout, high water, avalanche, and unfamiliar terrain.

(iii)  Circumstance.  New or unfamiliar equipment, buddy unavailable.

(b)  Preventive maintenance checks and services checklist for off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles must be signed by the supervisor and the employee or volunteer before commencing operation of any off-highway vehicle.  These checklists may be found in Appendix C, Off-Road Vehicles Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services and in Appendix D, Snowmobile Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services, respectively.

(c)  If a buddy is unavailable, the supervisor may authorize a solo off-highway vehicle operation after preparing a specific ride plan.  The plan supplements the field risk assessment with an analysis of the specific environmental situation including:

(i)  Weather.

(ii)  Terrain.

(iii)  Communication capabilities.

(d)  At a minimum, the ride plan must address:

(i)  More frequent communications.

(ii)  A detailed itinerary.

(iii) A specific route map.

(e)  A Risk Management Worksheet can be used to document the analysis.  The decision document must be signed by the supervisor and kept on file.  Employees and volunteers have the responsibility to follow safe operating procedures and have the right to decline to operate any equipment under circumstances they deem to be unsafe.

5.  Responsibilities.

A.  Director.

(1)  Directs establishment of a bureau motor vehicle safety program through the Designated Agency Safety and Health Official.

B.  Associate and Regional Directors.

(1)  Ensure managers and supervisors are accountable for ensuring compliance with motor vehicle safety policy requirements.

C.  Designated Agency Safety and Health Official.

(1)  Exercises the authority of the Director to develop, direct, and manage an effective motor vehicle safety program.

(2)  Assigns motor vehicle safety policy authority to the Chief, Office of Management Services.

D.  Chief, Office of Management Services.

E.  Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager.

(1)  Establishes and oversees motor vehicle safety policy management.

(2)  Approves all exceptions to established motor vehicle safety policy, training, and instruction.

(3)  Ensures OMS Occupational Safety and Health Management Branch staff has sufficient authority and resources to effectively support regional and mission areas in the implementation of the motor vehicle safety policy.

(4)  Ensures the assessment of regional and local implementation of the motor vehicle safety policy every 3 years, in accordance with SM 445-2-H.5 Program Evaluations.

(5)  Coordinate with respective regional and national programs safety managers to ensure local implementation of the motor vehicle safety policy.

(6)  Provide opportunity and resources for professional development of staff to ensure continual development of knowledge and skills and to remain current and up-to-date with the advances in the field of occupational safety and health.

(7)  Evaluate regional and mission areas to assess the effectiveness and degree of the motor vehicle safety policy administration and implementation, every 3 years at a minimum.  Evaluations must consider employee and volunteer training, vehicle inspections and maintenance, and licensing requirements.  

H.  Regional and National Programs Safety Managers.

(1)  Conduct periodic evaluations of regional and mission areas to determine the effectiveness of motor vehicle safety.  Evaluations must consider the overall motor vehicle safety compliance (e.g., employee and volunteer training, vehicle maintenance, inspections, and licensing requirements).

(2)  Provide assistance to regions, mission areas and Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators (CDSPCs) to implement the motor vehicle safety program.  Oversee and coordinate assistance to CDSPCs in determining training needs for program implementation.

(3)  Evaluate motor vehicle training to determine adequacy, cost effectiveness, and appropriateness in meeting program needs.

(4)  Review requests for exceptions to established policy, training, and instruction and coordinate approval with the Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager.

I.  Cost Center Managers and Supervisors.

(1)  Establish and implement a local level motor vehicle safety program for employees and volunteers who operate motor and specialized vehicles.

(2)  Ensure employees and volunteers who operate a motor vehicle have valid state drivers’ licenses for the class vehicle to be operated.

(3)  Annually, maintain and update Motor Vehicle Operator’s Certification Forms and current medical screening and documents/records in accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) Privacy Act requirements for all employees and volunteers.

(4)  Coordinate initial and refresher defensive driving training no less than once every 3 years for employees and volunteers who operate a motor vehicle in the performance of official duties to meet section 16.4.A.(10)(i) of this chapter.  Supervisors may require additional or more frequent training if warranted by an employee’s or volunteer’s driving record.

(5)  Coordinate specialized motor vehicle training for each specific type of vehicle operated, such as an operator course developed by the vehicle manufacturer or another appropriate source, to facilitate an employee’s or volunteer’s participation and knowledge of operating and manufacturer recommendations for maximum speed and safety procedures.

(6)  Coordinate off-highway vehicle training to ensure that an employee or volunteer successfully completes an operator training course developed by a manufacturer or other appropriate source, and is taught by an individual who has successfully completed an off-highway vehicle instructor course in order to qualify for off-highway vehicle authorization.

(7)  Establish an inspection and maintenance program for all vehicles on a recurring basis with documentation maintained for the life of the vehicle.  Vehicles with defects or deficiencies affecting occupant safety must be taken out of service until repaired.  Appendix E and Appendix F, New Vehicle Safety Organization Plan, may be used for this purpose.

(8)  Monitor identified motor vehicle deficiencies and corrective actions until abated.

J.  Contracting Officer Representatives.

(1)  Ensure contractor compliance with applicable requirements in this chapter when the Bureau arranges (via procurement contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, etc.) to have work performed by a contractor or subcontractor that involves motor vehicle operation, including the ban on text messaging while operating a vehicle in the performance of any work for or on behalf of the Government.

K. Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators.

(1)  Establish programs to strengthen employee, volunteer, and supervisor awareness of motor vehicle policy requirements as detailed within this chapter.

(2)  Establish inspection programs for all organizational vehicles at least annually or more often as recommended by the manufacturer.

(4)  Coordinate training requests that deviate from established course requirements with the appropriate full-time safety staff, as applicable, for approval by the Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager.

L.  Employees and Volunteers.

(1)  Notify supervisors, using the Annual Motor Vehicle Operator’s Certification, Appendix A, if their drivers’ licenses have been suspended, revoked, restricted, or canceled, or if they have been convicted of any moving traffic violation that affects their driving status, or when an operator receives a ticket or other violation while operating a vehicle on official business.

(2)  Avoid situations resulting in backing maneuvers.  When backing maneuvers are necessary, conduct a walk around of the vehicle to identify obstacles that may be hidden from view when seated behind the steering wheel.  When passengers or other employees or volunteers are present, employ them as spotters when backing the vehicle.

(3)  When weather conditions warrant, ensure the use of windshield wipers and headlights.  When windshield wipers are on, lights must be on.

(4)  Perform and document routine checks of vehicle safety components(e.g., tires, windshield wipers, headlights, taillights, turn signals, mirrors).  Immediately report all vehicle defects to the responsible supervisor.

(5)  Secure all weights, compressed gas cylinders, and other heavy or large items in the vehicle. Transport gasoline and other hazardous materials in approved containers and secure to prevent movement.

(6)  Prior to operating a vehicle, complete training for the appropriate vehicle type that meets requirement 16.4. 

(7)  If operating a vehicle under a commercial license, maintain official Motor Carrier Log Book of hours, rest, and out-of-service times as required by the Department of Transportation.



/s/ Jose Aragon                                                                              July 18, 2015
_________________________________________________         _______________
Jose Aragon, Associate Director for Administration


Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E
Appendix F

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