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.

September 1, 1992

Mr. John B. Tullner, D.D.S.
Infection Control Consultant
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Ctr.
50 Irving Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20422

Dear Dr. Tullner:

This is in response to your letter of June 18, requesting clarification of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens."

You requested that we provide an interpretation of the statement in the compliance directive [CPL 2-2.69], page [51], with respect to containerization of reusable sharps that states that "the only acceptable system is a fully automated container cleaning system that eliminates employee exposure to sharps." Your request was made with specific reference to the use of the Hu-Friedy IMS Cassettes in meeting the requirements of the standard.

We can clarify for you that the statement you have referred to from the compliance directive pertains to paragraph (d)(4)(iii)(A)(4) of the standard which addresses the use of reusable containers for disposable sharps when disposed of as regulated waste. The Hu-Friedy IMS Cassette product, however, appears to be a reusable container for reusable sharps (instruments) and, therefore, would not be subject to the requirements that apply to regulated waste.

Work practices regarding containerization of reusable sharps are addressed in paragraph (d)(4)(ii)(E) of the standard and are discussed on page 38 of the compliance directive. The final determination of compliance of any device must, however, take into account all factors pertaining its use at a direct observation of employee work practices as well as an evaluation of the equipment or device alone.

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]