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.

May 28, 1992

Mr. Ben B. Harriman Chairman
Department Of Pathology
Clearwater Pathology Associates
Post Office Box 210
Clearwater, Florida 34617-0210

Dear Dr. Harriman:

This is in response to your letter of April 9, in which you requested clarification concerning the gloving requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation, 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens".

As stated in the preamble to the standard, changing gloves between patient contacts is good infection control practice to eliminate patient-to-patient transmission of disease. However, OSHA's jurisdiction is over employee safety and health which is not addressed by this issue.

OSHA requires that disposable gloves be changed as soon practical when contaminated and as soon as feasible when they are torn or punctured. These requirements protect the employee from exposure to the hazards of bloodborne pathogens. OSHA does not require that gloves be changed between patients if they are not contaminated and their barrier properties are not compromised. Please bear in mind that the term "contaminated" is defined as the presence or the reasonably anticipated presence of blood or other potentially infectious materials rather than "visibly" contaminated as stated in your letter.

We hope this information is responsive to your concerns. Thank you for your interest in worker safety and health.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs