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.

September 12, 1991

Ms. P. Kay Norton
Vice President
Legal and Government Affairs
Monfort, Inc.
Post Office Box G
Greeley, Colorado 80632

Dear Ms. Norton:

Thank you for your letter of July 22, addressed to Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin, in which you expressed concern regarding the ability to reconcile the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) meatpacking guidelines with the proscriptions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

OSHA's "Ergonomics Program Management Guidelines for Meatpacking Plants" (the Guidelines), which you mention in your letter, are designed to assist employers in the meatpacking industry in implementing a comprehensive safety and health program for their employees. The Guidelines, however, do not address the issue of preemployment examinations.

Although the Medical Management section of the guidelines contains a subsection on baseline health surveillance the subsection does not create a screening mechanism. The purpose of the baseline examination is specifically stated: "The purpose... is to establish a base against which changes in health status can be evaluated, not to preclude people from performing work."

The "NOTE" in the baseline health surveillance subsection is also worth noting. It says: "The use of medical screening tests or examinations have not been validated as predictive procedures for determining the risk of a worker developing a [cumulative trauma disorder] CTD."

Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for enforcement of the ADA, its interpretation is better left to that entity. The ADA, however, does allow employers to require a medical examination after an offer of employment has been made to a job applicant. The employer may also condition an offer of employment on the results of such examination, if certain conditions are met (see Title 42 United States Code, Section 12112(c)(3)).

We agree that laws administered by different agencies that concern related issues sometimes may be difficult to reconcile, but the OSHA Guidelines here are not at odds with the ADA's employment entrance examination provision.

We hope this information has been helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of further assistance.


Gerard F. Scannell
Assistant Secretary

[Corrected 6/2/2005]