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.

August 27, 1992

Ms. Tracy Mullin
National Retail Trade Association
Suite 710
701 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Ms. Mullin:

Thank you for your letter of July 7, addressed to the Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin, which has been forwarded to this office for response. Your letter requested review of the compliance requirements for your industry with respect to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation, 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens." Specifically, you expressed concern that the requirements that you anticipate for your industry are burdensome and you requested a variance be granted.

The bloodborne pathogens standard addresses the broad issue of occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials and is not meant solely for employees in healthcare settings. Since there is no population that is risk free for human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis B virus infectivity, any employee who has occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials is included within the scope of this standard. Occupational exposure is defined as reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee's duties.

OSHA anticipates that this standard will impact upon your industry in a similar fashion as upon other non-healthcare industries, i.e., that employees who are designated as responsible for rendering first aid or medical assistance as part of their job duties are to be covered by this standard. This is because it is reasonable to anticipate that an employee designated to render first aid will have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Keep in mind that simply training employees in first aid or CPR does not invoke coverage by this standard; rather, it is the designation of the employee as responsible for rendering medical assistance as part of his or her job duties.

OSHA has, however, issued a policy statement specifying that, while designated first aiders are covered under the scope of the standard, failure to offer the hepatitis B vaccine pre-exposure to persons who render first aid only as a collateral duty will be considered a de minimis violation carrying no penalties, provided that a number of conditions are met (see enclosed news release). All other requirements of the standard continue to apply to designated first aid providers.

With respect to your request for variance, OSHA does not grant variance from the requirements of OSHA standards on an industry- wide basis. If your individual members are interested in requesting a variance, they should contact the OSHA Office of Variance Determination at (202) 523-7193. This office can also provide you with information on the variance process.

We hope this information is responsive to your concerns.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs