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 https://www.osha.gov.

June 25, 1979

John G. Beasley,
Executive Vice President
South Carolina Textile
Manufacturers Association
Suite 1700,
Bankers Trust Tower
1301 Gervals Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201

Dear Mr. Beasley:

This is to inform you of an error in my letter dated March 28, 1979, to Senator Ernest F. Hollings. The Senator subsequently sent you a copy of this letter since it pertained to an inquiry dated January 8, 1979, you addressed to him concerning the recently published standard for occupational exposure to cotton dust.

My letter mistakenly stated, "The requirement for a repeated pulmonary function measurement during the shift (29 CFR 1910.1043(h)(2)(iii)) does not apply to the initial testing of new employees."

The standard requires that the employer make initial and repeat measuring of pulmonary function available to new employees on the first day on the job that their exposure to cotton dust occurs.

I wish to stree these points:

1. When the standard (in 29 CFR 1910.1043(h)(2) refers to "new employees" it means employees who are newly exposed to cotton dust on the job. Thus, for the purposes of the standard, a newly hired employee who is assigned to a job at which he/she is not exposed to cotton dust is not a "new employee." On the other hand, an employee who has been working for an establishment at a job at which he/she is not exposed to cotton dust would become a "new employee" upon any reassignment to a job at which he/she is exposed to cotton dust.

2. The initial examination described in 29 CFR 1910.1043(h)(2)(i) through (iv) is not a preemployment or screening examination that is to be given job applicants before they can be hired.

I regret it if my letter to Senator Hollings has misled you, and I sincerely hope you were not seriously inconvenienced. If I can serve you in the future, I shall be glad to do so.


Eula Bingham
Assistant Secretary
Occupational Safety and Health