March 19, 2007
Sgt. Andrew C. Coccio
West Orange Police Department
66 Main Street
West Orange, NJ 07052
Dear Sgt. Coccio:
Thank you for your August 10, 2006 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter was referred to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs for review and response. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements herein, and may not be applicable to any question(s) not delineated within your original correspondence. You had specific questions regarding whether there is data available regarding firearms' range-related injuries.
Scenario: You are conducting research to determine if there is any data available regarding firearms' range-related injuries. Your agency has experienced two incidents where police officers were injured during firearms qualifications at the local police academy firearms training facility. The first incident occurred when a piece of unknown metal lodged in the officer's neck and had to surgically be removed. The second incident was a result of what appeared to be an ejected shell casing burn on the officer's neck. These incidents have caused some concerns within your agency.
Question: Does [OSHA] have any data that is available that addresses injuries at police academy firearms training facilities?
Reply: No. OSHA does not have any data that is available concerning injuries relating to firearm training facilities because local police academies are not covered by federal OSHA.
Additionally, the State of New Jersey administers and enforces its own occupational safety and health program for public sector employees (such as police officers) under a plan approved by Federal OSHA. States are required to enforce standards which are at least as effective as the Federal Standards, but some specific requirements and their interpretations may vary. For additional guidance and clarification, feel free to contact:
New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Division of Public Safety and Health
P.O. Box 386
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0386
Another good source of information may be obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. They have a training academy that is located in Quantico, Virginia. This premier law enforcement learning and research center has an extensive firearms training facility where trainees learn to become safe and competent with issued handguns, shotguns, and carbines. To contact them, log on to their website: http://www.fbi.gov/hq/td/academy/academy.htm.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs