This booklet provides a generic overview of a standards related topic. This publication does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities, which are described in the OSHA standards and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, the best sources for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements are current administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the courts. This publication is in the public domain and may be reproduced fully or partially without permission. Source credit is requested but not required.
OSHA will make this information available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Call (202) 693-1999.
If you are an employee who has a possible exposure to or uses toxic substances or harmful physical agents at your work site or an employer who has employees that may be exposed, you need to know your rights and responsibilities under OSHA's standard on Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records [Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910 .1020].1
If you are an employee who may have been exposed to toxic substances or harmful physical agents in the workplace, OSHA's regulation may help you detect, prevent, and treat occupational disease.
You have the right to access relevant exposure and medical records and to know how OSHA's standard covers you if you are any of the following:
Designated employee representatives may access employee medical or exposure records and analyses created from those records only in very specific circumstances. Designated employee representatives include any individual or organization to whom an employee has given written authorization to exercise a right of access.
The standard covers records documenting the amount of employee exposure to "toxic substances and harmful physical agents." Toxic substances and harmful physical agents may include the following:2
Access means the right to examine and copy medical and exposure records. As an employee, you have the right to access exposure and medical records and analyses based on these records that concern your employment. An employer must permit employees and, in certain circumstances their designated representatives, to access exposure and medical records relevant to the employee, free of charge, within a reasonable period of time. As an employee, you and your designated representatives may access your medical and exposure records in one of three ways:
You may access any employee exposure records that show the measuring or monitoring of your own exposure to a toxic substance or harmful physical agent. If your employer does not have any records that specifically chart your own exposure levels, you may access the exposure records of employees who engage in similar work or working conditions and may have experienced exposures similar to yours. Employee exposure records include the following:
You also may access any employee medical records concerning your health status that were created or maintained by a physician, nurse, health care professional, or technician. Employee medical records include the following:
In addition, you may access any analyses — compilations of data or statistical studies — of employee medical and exposure records that concern your working conditions or workplace. If an analysis includes information that could be used to directly or indirectly identify individual employees, however, the employer is required to remove these "identifiers" to the extent possible before permitting employee access to the analysis. Examples of identifiers include an employee's name, address, social security number, and job title.
The OSHA standard recognizes two types of designated representatives: (1) an individual or organization to whom the employee has given written authorization to access his or her medical or exposure records, and (2) a recognized or certified collective bargaining agent. To access employee information, employee representatives must follow very specific requirements, such as the following:
If you are an employer, you must do the following:
No. If you are an employer, the following are not considered "medical records" under this standard:
If you do not have exposure records that document the amount of a toxic substance or harmful physical agent that the requesting employee has been exposed to, you must give the requesting employee the records of other employees (with personal identifiers removed) with similar duties or working conditions that reasonably indicate the amount and nature of exposures the employee requesting the records may have had.
You also may be required to supply exposure records that reasonably indicate the amount and nature of toxic substances or harmful physical agents at a particular workplace, or used in a specific working condition, to which the requesting employee is being assigned or transferred.
Unless another OSHA rule specifically provides a different period of time, you must keep the following:
If you go out of business, you must do the following:
Yes. OSHA requires states with their own safety and health programs to have rules and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as those of the federal program
For more information on state plans, contact the state plan in your state or visit OSHA's website at www.osha.gov.
OSHA operates technical assistance, training and education, and consultation programs to help employers and employees understand rules and their requirements.
In addition, OSHA's website — www.osha.gov — contains information on agency programs, activities, policies, rules, training and education, outreach, and more. For a list of available publications and information on OSHA electronic products, visit the website or contact the OSHA Publications Office, P.O. Box 37535, Washington, DC 20013 -7535; (202) 693-1888 (phone); or (202) 693-2498 (fax). For a schedule of OSHA training and education courses, contact the OSHA Training Institute, 1555 Times Drive, Des Plaines, IL 60018, (708) 297-4810, or OSHA's online course schedule.
For more information about Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records, see Standards on OSHA's website, or contact your nearest OSHA Regional Office.
Atlanta ................... (404) 562-2300
Boston ................... (617) 565-9860
Chicago.................. (312) 353-2220
Dallas..................... (214) 767-4731
Denver ................... (303) 844-1600
Kansas City............. (816) 426-5861
New York................ (212) 337-2378
Philadelphia ............ (215) 861-4900
San Francisco ......... (415) 975-4310
Seattle .................... (206) 553-5930
To file a complaint, report an emergency, or seek OSHA advice, assistance, or products, call 1-800-321-OSHA or your nearest regional office. The teletypewriter (TTY) number is 1-877-889-5627.
1 Particular circumstances may vary for access to medical and exposure records. Refer to the provisions of the OSHA standard for specific information and requirements.
2 According to OSHA's regulation, "toxic substance or harmful physical agent" posing a hazard to human health must either (1) be listed in the latest edition of the NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances, (2) have yielded positive evidence of an acute or chronic health hazard in testing conducted by or known to the employer, or (3) be the subject of a material safety data sheet (MSDS) kept by or known to the employer indicating that the material may pose a hazard to human health.
3 The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §12112( d)(3)( B)-(C) generally requires employers to keep employee medical information confidential. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) standards, however, do not prohibit employers from making the disclosures required by OSHA's medical access standard. For further information on ADA standards regarding employee medical records, contact the EEOC at www.eeoc.gov.
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