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.



March 13, 1990

Ruth Michaels, Director
Quality Assistance Risk Management
Phelps Memorial Hospital Center
North Tarrytown, New York 10591

Dear Ms. Michaels:

This is in response to your February 1 letter addressed to the former Director of the [Directorate of Enforcement Programs], Thomas J. Shepich. You requested clarification of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) requirement that chest x-rays of employees be retained.

The definition of "employee" covered by this standard specifies workers whose occupation includes exposure to toxic substances or harmful physical agents (paragraph 1910.1020(c)(4)). Thus employees who have no hazardous exposures, such as clerical staff in some circumstances, are not covered under the scope of this standard. Their medical records are, therefore, also not covered.

29 CFR 1910.1020 ("Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records") was revised on September 29, 1988. The previous final rule included all employee x-rays in the definition of employee medical records, regardless of the purpose for which they were taken. The new rule modifies this requirement by considering only those x-rays taken for purposes of establishing a baseline or determining specific occupational illness as part of the medical record (paragraph 1910.1020(c)(6)(i)(B)). This revision removes from coverage x-rays taken to detect or treat broken bones due to falls or other traumatic occurrences.

[Paragraph 1910.1020(d)(2)] allows an employer to preserve the records in any form, manner, or process he or she chooses as long as the information contained in the record is preserved and retrievable. Chest x-ray films, however, are exempted from this section and must be preserved in their original form and may not be microfilmed. I hope this information is helpful to you. If I can be of further service please contact me.


Patricia K. Clark, Director Designate
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]



February 1, 1990

Mr. Thomas J. Shepich
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]
Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health
U.S. Dept. of Labor - OSHA
200 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20210

Re: HCS, 29 CFR 1910.1020 - X-ray Film Retention

Dear Mr. Shepich,

Request clarification of the required retention of chest X-ray films of employees as it relates to the above captioned standard. It is understood that X-rays done for other reasons not associated with hazardous material exposure need not be retained.

Are all hospital employee chest X-rays required to be retained in their original state for the duration of their employment plus 30 years.

Is there any latitude in the standard which allows microfilming of chest X-rays, or maintaining chest X-rays of those employees who have limited material exposure i.e.: clerical staff.

A response is appreciated.


Ruth Michaels, Director
Quality Assurance Risk Management

[Corrected 05/28/2004]