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 24, 1992

Valora Putnam, CIH
Health and Safety Director
Delta Environmental Consultants, Inc.
Suite 300
900 Long Lake Road
St. Paul, Minnesota 55112

Dear Ms. Putnam:

This is in further response to your letter of June 10, addressed to Dorothy Strunk, Acting Assistant Secretary. You wrote regarding the applicability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens", to designated first aiders and to employees who accidentally rupture a sewage line.

With regard to your first concern, you inquired as to whether OSHA has a definition for "first aid providers" who are covered under the standard. OSHA Instruction [CPL 2-2.69, "Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens"], states on page [10] that employees who are trained in first aid and designated by the employer as responsible for rendering medical assistance as part of his or her job duties are covered by the standard.

One of the central provisions of the standard is that employers are responsible for determining which job classifications or specific tasks and procedures are reasonably anticipated to result in worker contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). The standard relates coverage to occupational exposure, regardless of where that exposure may occur, since the risk of infection with bloodborne pathogens is dependent on the likelihood of exposure to blood or OPIM regardless of the particular job title or place of employment. Your letter states that "we could reasonably expect abrasion hazards, laceration hazards, electrical hazards, and a myriad of other accidents which could result in exposure to blood and saliva, etc. during first aid or CPR emergency assistance". This statement would certainly lead us to conclude that your employees who are responsible for rendering medical assistance under these situations would have "occupational exposure" as defined by the standard.

However, a following line in your letter states, apparently inconsistently, that "these individuals are not expected to render medical assistance nor are they trained at that level to do so". It appears to us that your company needs to decide which, if any, employees are responsible for rendering first aid. These are the employees who would fall within the scope of the standard. Please bear in mind that the assistance rendered does not have to be "at the emergency medical technician (EMT) level" to constitute occupational exposure.

Your second question concerns coverage under the standard of an excavator or driller who accidentally ruptures a sewage line, resulting in the release of raw sewage. You state that, in such a circumstance, the employee would immediately stop work and contact the appropriate personnel for response to this release. Although contact with raw sewage (not originating directly from a health care facility) poses a number of health hazards, OSHA does not consider these hazards to be related to bloodborne pathogens.

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


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Assistance

[Corrected 10/29/02]