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.

February 12, 1992

Robert T. Turner
616 West Maple Street
Apartment D
Johnson City, TN 37604-6606

Dear Mr. Turner:

This is in response to your inquiry of January 2, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) regulations that may apply to your work.

You have asked us to bring to your attention any federal regulations that apply to volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), who may be asked to respond as part of a Hazardous Materials Rescue Team, among other duties.

The state of Tennessee operates under an OSHA approved state plan, which covers all occupational safety and health concerns for Tennessee. As a state with an approved plan, Tennessee must provide employee protection that is "at least as effective" as Federal OSHA's, and may be more stringent. You may contact Tennessee's office at the following address:

Tennessee Department of Labor Attn: Robert Taylor 501 Union Building Suite "A" - 2nd Floor Nashville, TN 37243-0655 (615) 741-2582

Enclosed please find several federal OSHA regulations that have been published in the last few years that may pertain to your work. Please keep in mind that you will have to contact the Tennessee Department of Labor for occupational safety and health regulations that may be more effective than Federal OSHA's standards.

Federal OSHA does not generally cover volunteers, unless they are compensated in some way and would therefore be considered employees. Even if Federal OSHA does not cover a volunteer, the state of Tennessee may.

In a special case the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard, codified as 40 CFR 311, and included uncompensated workers (volunteers). EPA's definition of "employee" covers workers that federal OSHA could not otherwise protect. (EPA also encouraged OSHA's approved state plans to include volunteers in their definition of employee for all regulations.) Compensated employees and volunteers who may be involved in emergency responses involving hazardous substances "regardless of location," and are covered by EPA or the state's expanded definition of employee, must be trained in accordance with the HAZWOPER standard (see paragraph (q) in the enclosed HAZWOPER standard).

Thank you for your concern in the safety and health practices of your organization and in your efforts to comply with OSHA's regulations. I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please contact Federal OSHA's Office of Health Compliance Assistance at (202) 523-8036, or the state of Tennessee at the above phone number.


Patricia Clark,
Director Directorate of Compliance Programs