- 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.
June 3, 1992
Mr. Joel I. Keiler
Ammerman & Keiler
5225 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20015
Dear Mr. Keiler:
This is in response to your letter of April 29, in which you requested a clarification on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens". You wrote regarding the coverage of janitorial employees under the standard.
Housekeeping workers in healthcare facilities may have occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, as defined by the standard. "Occupational exposure" is defined as "reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious material which may result from the performance of an employee's duties". Individuals who perform housekeeping duties, particularly in patient care and laboratory areas, may be at increased risk for exposure when they perform tasks such as cleaning blood spills and handling infectious wastes.
While OSHA does not generally consider maintenance personnel and janitorial staff employed in non-health care facilities to have occupational exposure, it is the employer's responsibility to determine which job classifications or specific tasks and procedures involve occupational exposure. For example, OSHA expects products such as discarded sanitary napkins, to be discarded into waste containers which are lined in such a way as to prevent contact with the contents. But at the same time, the employer must determine if employees can come into contact with blood during the normal handling of such products from initial pick-up through disposal in the outgoing trash. If OSHA determines, on a case-by-case basis, that sufficient evidence exists of reasonably anticipated exposure, the employer will be held responsible for providing the protections of 29 CFR 1910.1030 to the employees with occupational exposure.
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