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.

April 29, 1985

Honorable Donald W. Riegle, Jr.
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Riegle:

This is in response to your March 19 letter, addressed to Ruth Knight, Acting Director, Intra-Governmental Affairs, which transmitted correspondence from your constituent, Mr. Craig Zanotti. Mr. Zanotti contends that harmful radiation emissions are being released from supermarket laser scanning equipment presently in use in some food stores in the Flint, Michigan area.

As you are aware, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for the working men and women of the Nation. Section 18 of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 encourages States to assume responsibility for their own safety and health programs under a plan approved by the U.S. Department of Labor and subject to Federal monitoring. The Michigan Department of Labor and the Department of Public Health administer such a plan and have responsibility for the enforcement of safety and health standards in the State. Mr. Zanotti can get more information on the State plan by contacting the State directly at the following addresses:

Ms. Elizabeth Howe
Director (Safety)
Michigan Department of Labor
7150 Harris Drive
P.O. Box 30015
Lansing, Michigan 48909


Dr. Gloria R. Smith
Director (Health)
Michigan Department of Public Health
3500 North Logan Street
Lansing, Michigan 48914

Neither OSHA nor the Michigan State plan has specific standards that regulate supermarket laser scanning equipment. However, OSHA regulates exposure to nonionizing radiation in its General Industry standards, 29 CFR 1910.97 (copy enclosed). This standard specifies that worker exposure to nonionizing radiation not exceed 10 mW/cm.2 in the frequency range 10 MHz to 100 GHz (defined in the standard as radio frequency/microwave radiation). Michigan has adopted the same requirement under its State plan.

It is my understanding that the Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the Food and Drug Administration is involved in research regarding health effects and appropriate precautions with respect to laser equipment. For further information, Mr. Zanotti can contact the Center directly at the following address:

Food and Drug Administration
Center for Devices and Radiological Health
Office of the Director
5700 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857
Telephone: 301-443-4690

I hope this information will be of use to you in responding to Mr. Zanotti's concerns. If I may be of further assistance, please let me know.


Bruce Hillenbrand, Director
Federal-State Operations