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.


February 11, 1988

Ms. Pamela J. Reich
Environment, Health & Safety
C&D Power Systems, Inc.
3043 Walton Road
Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania 19462

Dear Ms. Reich:

This is in response to your inquiry to Mr. John Martonik concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lead standard (29 CFR 1910.1025). Please accept my apology for the delay in this reply.

Your first questions pertain to whether the multiple physician review mechanism of the lead standard applies when an employee refuses to go to a company doctor and goes to his own doctor without notifying the employer. The review mechanism does not apply in this case. The multiple review mechanism commences after an initial medical examination or consultation is provided by a physician chosen by the employer.

Your other question concerns the application of the medical removal protection provisions when a final medical finding, which is unrelated to lead exposure, places an employee at increased risk of material impairment to health if further exposed to lead. The lead standard places the determination as to whether an individual in such a case should be removed from exposure to lead in the judgment of a knowledgeable physician. The employer is required to provide the examining physician background information (e.g., copy of the lead standard, employees lead exposure, description of employee's duties, etc.) which provides an opportunity for the physician to fully assess the employee's health status.

In addition, the lead standard provides that where an employer, although not required to do so, removes an employee from exposure to lead or otherwise places limitations on an employee due to the effects of lead exposure on an employee's medical condition, the employer shall provide as a minimum 18 months of medical protection benefits. After 18 months, these benefits can be discontinued if a final medical determination is made that the employee is incapable of ever safely returning to his or her former job.

I hope this information is helpful. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Thomas J. Shepich, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs

[Corrected 10/20/2008]