Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

July 30, 1990

Mr. John B. Moran Laborers' National Health and Safety Fund 905 16th Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006-1765

Dear Mr. Moran:

This is in response to your letter to Mr. John B. Miles, Jr., Boston Regional Administrator, concerning the standard for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (29 CFR 1910.120).

Your question concerns the application of this standard to activity on "clean areas" of a site designated for clean-up by a governmental body. Potentially the entire geographic area of the site designated for clean-up by a governmental body could fall under 1910.120. Once areas are characterized, however, employees are not covered by the standard if they:

1. Work exclusively within uncontaminated areas of the hazardous waste site.

2. Do not enter areas where hazardous waste may exist, are stored or are processed; and

3. Are not exposed or potentially exposed to health or safety hazards related to hazardous waste operations.

Consequently, those engaged in construction activities in uncontaminated areas which meet all of the conditions described above are not required to be trained under the standard. However, if employees' work activities do not meet all of the exclusion criteria described above, employees must be trained for the duration and in the subjects specified in paragraph 1910.120(e).

It is the responsibility of the employers of any workers at the site to ensure adequate site characterization. The information that is needed to be gathered is set forth in 1910.120(c). As a result of this process, employers are able to designate contaminated (hot zones) and uncontaminated areas. If site activities or weather conditions change, employers must have ongoing site characterization programs.

I hope this information is helpful.


Patricia K. Clark Director Designate Directorate of Compliance Programs

July 2, 1990

John B. Miles, Jr. Regional Administrator U.S. Department of Labor OSHA 133 Portland Street Boston, MA 02114

Dear John:

As you no doubt are already aware, a meeting occurred on June 11, 1990 with OSHA personnel in your Braintree Area Office regarding the Baird and McGuire Superfund Site in Holbrook. Representatives of labor, Barletta (the contractor), and the Corps of Engineers were represented at the meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to obtain guidance from OSHA with regard to 29 CFR 1910.120 in specific regard to OSHA compliance policy vis-a-vis designation of "clean" areas within designated hazardous waste sites and whether compliance with 1910.120 was required therein. We were informed that no Compliance Directive has been issued covering 1910.120, that no written policy is available, and that verbal policy from headquarters indicates that there can be "clean" areas within hazardous waste sites-wherein compliance with 1910.120 is not required.

While we were astounded at this statement for a host of reasons we were further frustrated by the fact that OSHA personnel were unwilling to state, or even suggest, what criteria was appropriate to delineate the clean-dirty boundary.

In discussing this issue with Charles Culver and Patricia Clark at the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health meeting last week, Ms. Clark indicated that I could begin the process to obtain an OSHA policy statement on these issues by writing to you, which is the purpose of this letter. I am sure your Area Office Director, Mr. Crockett, can fill you in on any additional details you might desire. In addition, please feel free to contract me should the issues be unclear.

In the meantime, workers are on the site doing preliminary clearing, etc. We are attempting to pursue an approach to resolving the site specific issues with the Corps, EPA, and the contractor in a time frame to avoid any unanticipated worker exposures. OSHA's lack of support and guidance has unfortunately, severely compromised these efforts.

I look forward to an early response to this request.




John B. Moran


cc: Mr. Crockett, OSHA Dr. Culver, OSHA R.J. Connerton B. Ryan, IUOE Local 4 J. Merloni, Jr., MLDC L. Palavanchi, LIUNA, Local 721