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.

July 7, 1992

Frank S. Rhame, M.D.
University of Minnesota
Box 421
Harvard Street at East River Road
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455-0392

Dear Dr. Rhame:

This is in response to your letter of May 14, requesting clarification of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Instruction [CPL 2-2.69], "Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens."

Your question involves OSHA's application of the "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens" regulation, 29 CFR 1910.1030, to hospitals where physicians who are members of professional corporations practice.

For purposes of OSHA enforcement, physicians 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 such as failure to make available the Hepatitis B vaccination to the physician who has occupational exposure. The hospital where the physician practices may also be held responsible as the employer who created or controlled the hazard to which the employee was exposed. Hospitals, for example, may be cited for failure to provide the physician with appropriate personal protective equipment and site specific training.

If a non-incorporated physician (who is therefore not an employee) is occupationally exposed, a citation would not be issued if that individual were the only person at risk. There may, however, be cases such as improper disposal of sharps, inwhich such non-incorporated physicians may create a hazard to which hospital employees are exposed. It would be consistent with current OSHA policy to cite the hospital as the employer of the exposed employees for failure to provide the protections of the bloodborne pathogens standard.

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 10/29/02]