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.

August 19, 1988

Dr. Paul W. Jonmaire
Ecology and Environment, Inc.
Buffalo Corporate Center
368 Pleasantview Drive
Lancaster, New York 14086

Dear Dr. Jonmaire:

This is in response to your June 24 letter, concerning several interpretation issues pertaining to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response   interim   final rule (29 CFR 1910.120). Your specific questions addressed four requirement areas including air monitoring, site safety and health plan, training, and medical surveillance.

First, regarding air monitoring, you questioned whether the use of colorimetric indicator tubes for specific gases and vapors is a useful approach for any or all of   interim   rule Section (h), "Monitoring"; and for down-grading from Level B personal protective equipment in emergency response situations. OSHA's   interim   rule is a performance standard that requires initial and continued monitoring for compliance protection of workers based on a hierarchy of standards for exposure to hazardous substances, and conditions. This hierarchy for air contaminants includes:

1) OSHA permissible exposure limits (PELs),
2) National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended exposure limits (PELs),
3) American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists threshold limit values (TLVs), and
4) Other scientific information such as contained in Material Safety Data Sheets.

Therefore, based on site, hazards, and exposure specific considerations, a range of monitoring techniques may be employed to comply with Section (h) requirements, to include personal protection equipment decision-making. These techniques might include NIOSH standard methods, direct reading instruments, colorimetric indicator tubes, and other methods appropriate to the site conditions. The OSHA   interim   rule directs the conduct of initial, periodic, and ongoing air monitoring for all hazardous substances of exposure concern. Colorimetric indicator tubes may be a useful and acceptable approach for selected hazardous substances as a component of the air monitoring plan tailored to site specific conditions.

Second, regarding the site safety and health plan requirements, you questioned whether it is preferable to have one safety plan for all site activities and workers; or to have a contractor-specific, operation-specific plan for each of the contractors involved. The OSHA   interim   final rule specifies the minimum content, coverage, availability, and use requirements for the site safety and health plan, but no specific plan format for documentation is prescribed. In review, this plan is to address the safety and health hazards of each phase of the site operation and include the requirements and procedures established for employee protection; and it shall be available on the site for inspection by employees and OSHA personnel [(1910.120(b)(1)(v)]). Among the minimum coverage requirements is a safety and health risk analysis for each site task and operation ([1910.120(c)(7)]).

If contractor and sub-contractor services are retained, then the site employer must apprise them of the overall site safety and health plan ([1910.120(b)(1)(iv)]). This must include information on any potential fire, explosion, health or other safety hazards of the hazardous waste operation that have been identified by the employer. Each contractor/sub-contractor, however, is in addition, responsible for compliance with all safety and health protection requirements for their employees. In terms of the overall site safety and health plan, documentation may appear in a range of formats. In general, a site plan organized as a single document, with component subsections/appendices covering all tasks, operations, and contractors, may promote use efficiency; enhance completeness, clarity, and coordination among all affected parties; and facilitate compliance inspection.

Third, regarding training and medical fitness, you questioned whether documentation must always be available onsite for employees, or if it is adequate for an employer to provide this information to the (OSHA) inspector within a reasonable time period. You further posed a "reasonable time" definition of several days. Under separate rule, 1910.1020, "Access to employee exposure and medical records," OSHA has made several timeframe clarifications. For an employee or designated representative Section (e)(1), "Access to Records, General," states that the employer shall ensure that access is provided to records in a reasonable time, place, and manner, but in no event later than fifteen (15) days after the request for access is made. For OSHA inspection access, however, Section (e)(3) states that each employer must assure immediate access to employee exposure and medical records, and to analyses using exposure or medical records. Although training records are not specifically referenced, this timeframe guidance is also relevant. At the discretion of the OSHA Area Director, adequate flexibility to accommodate alternative management configurations may be made on a case specific basis.

I hope this information is helpful.   The final rulemaking governing Hazardous Waste Site Operations and Emergency Response Activities, is undergoing final OSHA review, with promulgated planned within the next several months. This final rule will be effective one year after promulgation, replacing the interim rule 1910.120.   If I can be of further assistance please let me know.

[This document was edited on 1/17/03 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy.]


Thomas J. Shepich, Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]