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.

April 8, 1992

Mr. Charles C. Soros
Chief of Safety
Seattle Fire Department
301 2nd Avenue, South
Seattle, Washington 98104

Dear Chief Soros:

Thank you for your letter of February 19, addressed to Thomas H. Seymour, Deputy Director of the Directorate of Safety Standards Programs. In your letter you inquire about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Final Standard for Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens and the Agency's position on top-loading washing machines versus front-loading washing machines for laundering of personal protective equipment.

From the information contained in your letter, it appears that you have researched this particular area, and you raise what seem to be valid benefits to the use of front-loading machines. However, the standard makes no distinction between top-loading and front-loading machines, and the Agency currently has no position on the appropriateness of either type of machine for laundering of personal protective equipment.

As you are aware, Washington operates its own Federally-approved State OSHA program. Therefore, you may wish to contact them to determine if they have any particular requirements in this area. Washington OSHA may be reached at the following address:

         Washington Department of Labor and Industries
         General Administration Building
         Room 334 - AX - 31
         Olympia, Washington 98504-0631

We hope we have been of assistance in this matter.


Charles E. Adkins Director
Health Standards Programs