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.

December 4, 1989

Mr. Craig A. Townsend
Bayshore Medical Center
3350 Fairview
Pasadena, Texas 77504-1973

Dear Mr. Townsend:

This is in response to your letter of October 4, 1989, concerning retention requirements for medical records.

Medical records that employers must retain are contained in 29 CFR 1910.1020(b), which is the scope and application portion of the standard captioned "access to employee exposure and medical records". Orthopedic x-rays do not have to be retained provided that are not pertaining to employees exposed to toxic substances or harmful physical agents. If office workers are exposed to unregulated toxic substances, then medical records pertaining to their exposure must be retained. If office workers are not exposed to toxic substances or harmful physical agents, their medical records do not have to be retained.

I appreciate the opportunity to clarify this matter for you.


Thomas J. Shepich, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs