The Allegheny County Health Department is reminding County contractors that many off-road diesel engines should not be idled for longer than five minutes.
Health Department spokesman Guillermo Cole says it’s legal to idle diesel-powered equipment like backhoes and cranes as long as the idling is serving some purpose. However, Cole says “unnecessary idling” for longer than five minutes can earn first-time offenders a $100 fine. Subsequent violations will net $500 fines.
Cole says it’s important to limit diesel idling because the exhaust contains toxic gases and fine particles that can cause health problems.
The regulation doesn’t apply to engines smaller than 25 horsepower, or to vehicles driven on roads.
Cole says the Health Department worked with the construction industry when it crafted the rule about a year ago, so most contractors are already aware of it. Stickers that remind vehicle operators of the law are available via the Health Department.
He says the five-minute limit can be enforced by the Health Department, or by municipal and local police. Cole says citizens can also report any suspected violations.
Pittsburgh Council is considering legislation to require diesel filters for construction vehicles working on publicly funded projects.