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.

July 7, 1992

Mr. Spencer Parkinson
Product Manager of Infection Control
Devon Industries, Inc.
9530 DeSoto Avenue
Chatsworth, California 91111-5084

Dear Mr. Parkinson:

This is in response to your April 2 letter in which you inquired about the acceptability of your four gallon "Sharps-A-Gator" sharps disposal container under 29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iii) (A)(iii) of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens". We apologize for the delay in this response.

As you stated in your letter, the standard requires that containers used to discard disposable sharps be leakproof on the sides and bottom. A concern that we have with your four gallon container is that liquid blood or other potentially infectious materials could seep out through the joint between the upper and lower halves of the container. Certainly used syringes and other sharps are unlikely to carry enough blood to fill the lower half of the container up to the joint. However if leaking or broken containers of liquid blood were to be disposed of in the "Sharps- A-Gator" there is a possibility that blood running down the inside wall could reach the joint and seep out. Additionally, the joint should be secure enough so that it could not spring open during normal transport operations.

While OSHA does not endorse or approve specific products, if your product is designed so that these concerns are alleviated, then this sharps container would appear to be in compliance with the standard. Of course, the final determination regarding compliance with OSHA requirements must be made in the workplace by direct OSHA compliance officer observation of employee work practices while utilizing your product and through employee interviews.

We hope this information is responsive to your concerns.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs