- 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.
September 4, 1992
The Honorable David Pryor
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Pryor:
This is in response to your letter of July 2, on behalf of your constituent, Carl S. Whillock, regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation, 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens." Please accept our apology for the delay in this response.
Mr. Whillock's first concern was whether potential exposure resulting from the administration of first aid to an injured fellow employee is sufficient to invoke the requirements of the standard. His question was in reference to employees working in the construction and maintenance of electric transmission or distribution lines.
The standard does not apply automatically to employees if they are trained in first aid, but rather to those employees who are required by the employer to actually administer first aid in instances where occupational exposure may occur. 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. Therefore, those employees who are designated by the employer as responsible for rendering first aid as part of their job duties are covered by the standard. 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.
Further, OSHA has previously announced that the standard does not apply to construction work as defined in 29 CFR 1910.12. Maintenance operations, however, are general industry activities and, where occupational exposure may occur, are covered by all the provisions of 29 CFR 1910.1030.
Your constituent's second concern was that compliance with the post-exposure evaluation and medical recordkeeping requirements to test and document the HIV or HBV status of source individuals could potentially expose his companies to substantial liability for violating the privacy or other federal rights of source individuals.
Paragraphs (f)(3)(A) and (C) of the standard require testing of the source individual's blood for HIV and HBV, and disclosure of the results to the exposed employee, only where it is permitted and not in conflict with applicable laws or regulations. The standard further requires that the employer inform the exposed employee of any such laws or regulations concerning disclosure of the identity and infection status of the source individual. The standard does not, therefore, require employers to violate any applicable privacy laws.
We hope this information is responsive to your concerns. Thank you for your interest in employee safety and health.
Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs