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.


June 25, 1992

Mr. Ronald E. Hauxwell President
Pathfinder Associates Inc.
Post Office Box 5240 N.
Muskegon, MI 49445

Dear Mr. Hauxwell:

This is in response to your letter of March 7, requesting clarifications concerning the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation, 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens." We apologize for the delay in this response.

Your first question concerns OSHA's jurisdiction over non-incorporated business owners. The quotation that you refer to from the preamble to the standard concerns information provided to the public record by the American Dental Association on vaccination and seroconversion rates of dentists. The phrase "employers are not covered by the standard" is intended to suggest that non-incorporated employers themselves are not covered by the benefits of the standard.

Every employer, whether he or she is incorporated or non-incorporated, falls within the jurisdiction of OSHA and is obligated to protect his or her employees as required by all applicable OSHA standards. The individual non-incorporated employer or the corporation is liable for citations if it fails to do so. For purposes of OSHA enforcement, physicians or dentists who are members of professional corporations are generally considered to be employees of that corporation. The corporation may be cited for failure to provide the protections of the bloodborne pathogens standard to the physician or dentist and, for example, for failure to ensure that the physician or dentist wore the appropriate personal protective equipment. If however, OSHA observed a non-incorporated physician or dentist wearing inappropriate personal protective equipment, a citation would not be issued if that employer were the only person at risk.

Your second question concerns the coverage of discarded feminine hygiene products as regulated waste and whether janitors who clean female restrooms are covered by the standard. OSHA does not generally consider discarded feminine hygiene products to fall within the definition of regulated waste and does not generally consider janitorial staff employed in non-health care facilities to have occupational exposure as defined by the standard. OSHA expects these products to be discarded into waste containers which are lined in such a way as to prevent contact with the contents.

Please note, however, that it is the employer's responsibility to determine which job classifications or specific tasks and procedures involve occupational exposure as well as the existence of regulated waste. For example, the employer must determine whether 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 occupational exposure or the presence of regulated waste, citations may be issued.

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

[Corrected January 22, 2008]