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 http://www.osha.gov.
MAR 26 1990
Herbert P. Pleiman, Jr., DDS Post Office Box 560026 Rockledge, Florida 32956-0026
Dear Dr. Pleiman:
This is in response to your letter of February 26, in which you expressed concern about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prohibition against recapping of syringes and your belief that OSHA is enacting regulations without thorough consultation with professionals.
On February 27, OSHA issued a revised compliance directive to its field staff entitled OSHA Instruction CPL 2-2.44B, "Enforcement Procedures for Occupational Exposure to Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)". A copy of this Instruction is enclosed for your information. On page 16, you will be pleased to see that OSHA has clarified its prohibition against recapping and expressly allows recapping by some method other than the traditional two handed procedure, i.e. the use of resheathing instruments or forceps is permitted.
In the development of both the compliance directive and the proposed rule on Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, OSHA has consulted closely with a large number of affected professionals. Over 300 comments were received in response to our advance notice of proposed rulemaking which were used in developing the proposed standard. When the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on May 30, 1989, the public was again invited to submit written comments to the OSHA Docket Office. To date, we have received more than 2700 comments from a variety of sources including concerned individuals and labor, trade, and professional organizations. Your comments will also be placed in OSHA Docket H-370 where you can be sure they will receive thorough consideration in the development of the final rule.
In addition, OSHA held a series of public hearings on the proposed standard in five cities which allowed additional comments to be made in public testimony. OSHA has also conducted additional surveys of employers to determine what precautions are currently in use to protect workers who are at occupational risk for contracting hepatitis B and AIDS. This process of public notice and comment has generated the information needed to assure that we can develop a final standard that will provide the necessary protection for employees in a cost-effective manner.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Thank you for your interest in worker safety and health.
Patricia K. Clark Director Designate Directorate of Compliance Programs
(Enclosure not provided to OCIS)