- Standard Number:
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.
April 6, 1992
Mr. Charles R. Slagle Director,
United Telecom United Telecom/US Sprint
Post Office Box 11315
Kansas City, Missouri 64112
Dear Mr. Slagle:
This is in response to your letter of February 5, regarding the applicability of 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens", to the telecommunications industry.
The bloodborne pathogens standard addresses the broad issue of occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials and is not meant solely for employees in health care settings. Since there is no population that is risk free for human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis B virus infectivity, any employee who has occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials is included within the scope of this standard.
It is important to note that "occupational Exposure" is defined as "reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee's duties". OSHA anticipates that this standard will impact upon the telecommunications industry in a similar fashion as upon other non-health care industries, i.e., that employees who are designated as responsible for rendering first aid or medical assistance as part of their job duties are to be covered by this standard. This is because it is reasonable to anticipate that an employee designated to render first aid will have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.
Several points of clarification concerning your letter must be made. While OSHA would encourage an employer to offer follow-up procedures to an employee who experiences an exposure incident as the result of performing a "Good Samaritan" act, the standard excludes employees who perform unanticipated "Good Samaritan" acts from coverage by the standard since such an action does not constitute "occupational exposure", as defined by the standard.
Your are correct that 29 CFR 1910.268, OSHA's Telecommunications Standard, requires telecommunication employers to train employees in first aid. However, OSHA believes that not all these employees would necessarily be designated to render medical assistance. For example, a stable six-person crew could have two of the six employees designated to render medical assistance and therefore to be covered by the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1030.
If, as you state, an employee who is designated to render medical assistance does so only "rather infrequently", it is very possible that he or she will decline the offer of vaccination. The other requirements of the standard, such as training these employees in the hazard of bloodborne pathogens and providing them with the proper personal protective equipment for use in case an emergency occurs, are extremely basic needs for a designated first aid provider. To further clarify this issue, I have directed OSHA's directorate of Policy to gather additional information concerning the estimates of costs to the telecommunications industry.
We hope this information is responsive to your concerns. Thank you for your interest in employee safety and health.
Dorothy L. Strunk
Acting Assistant Secretary