- Standard Number:
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.
August 28, 1992
The Honorable Brock Adams
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Adams:
This is in further response to your letter of July 10, addressed to Tadd Linsenmayer, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. On behalf of two of your constituents whose letters you enclosed, you requested clarification of issues regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation on "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne pathogens," 29 CFR 1910.1030. The issues of concern are the application of the standard to, and the economic impact on, non-health care industries. Specifically your constituents are concerned about the coverage of employees rendering first aid.
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 health care 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.
It is important to note that "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 the industries represented by your constituents in a similar fashion as upon other non-health care 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. Employees who perform unanticipated Good Samaritan acts are not covered by the standard since such actions do not constitute "occupational exposure" as defined by the standard.
OSHA has 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.
Your constituent's second concern was that compliance with the medical recordkeeping and other requirements may be burdensome for non-health care employers. You should note, however, that it is the employer's responsibility to determine which job classifications involve occupational exposure, and that the employer is only required to offer and make the Hepatitis B vaccine and other protections of the standard available to those employees having occupational exposure. In workplace facilities such as your constituents have described, only certain designated employees may have duties which involve occupational exposure. Employees who do not have occupational exposure are not covered by the scope of this standard. Costs associated with recordkeeping and other requirements may therefore be limited and controlled by the employer.
We hope this information is responsive to your concerns and the concerns of your constituents. Thank you for your interest in employee safety and health.
Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs