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.

October 22, 1992

Mr. Larry G. Richardson
Director of Safety and Training
Noble Drilling Services, Inc.
Suite 400
10370 Richmond Avenue
Houston, Texas 77042

Dear Mr. Richardson:

This is in response to your letter of August 31, regarding the applicability of 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens", to drilling operations. We apologize for the delay in this response.

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 the definition of "occupational exposure" comprises the reasonable anticipation that the employee will come into contact with these fluids during the course of performing his or her work duties. Therefore, OSHA anticipates that this standard will impact upon all non-health care industries in a similar fashion, 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 "Good Samaritan" acts are not, per se, covered by this standard, although OSHA would encourage an employer to offer follow-up procedures to an employee who experiences an exposure incident as the result of performing a "Good Samaritan" act. This is because such an action does not constitute "occupational exposure", as defined by the standard. The key to this issue is not whether employees have been trained in first aid, but whether they are also designated as responsible for rendering medical assistance. While many workers may be trained in first aid and CPR, not all of these employees would necessarily be designated to render first aid.

Please note that OSHA has recently issued a policy statement specifying that failure to offer the hepatitis B vaccine pre-exposure to persons who render first aid only as a collateral duty, will be considered a technical violation carrying no penalties, provided that a number of conditions are met. These conditions are described in the enclosed news release.

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


Roger A. Clark,
Directorate of Compliance Programs


August 31, 1992

Ms. Patricia K. Clark,
Directorate of Compliance Programs
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

Re: Request For Informal Ruling Concerning Application of the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens 29 CFR 1910.1030

Dear Ms. Clark:

The Gulf Coast Land Division of Noble Drilling (U.S.) Inc. operates land drilling rigs for hire in Texas and Louisiana. The oil company customer owns the leasehold and surface rights and directs Noble as to where, what kind and to what depth of hole it desires to be drilled.

Noble does not hire any medics, nurses or physicians to work on or about these land rigs. The Noble employees on site consist entirely of drilling operations personnel. The Noble supervisor who is in charge of the drilling operations at the drill site is the toolpusher. The next in command under the toolpusher is the driller.

If there is an industrial accident, then the Noble toolpusher or driller contacts the nearest emergency ambulance service and the injured employee is treated at the nearest appropriate local medical facility. Additionally, while such training is not required for performance of their primary duties, these Noble toolpushers and drillers have had first aid and CPR training. However, they are not licensed healthcare personnel.

Given the facts peculiar to Noble's land drilling operations, it is also conceivable that under the right set of circumstances (i.e., occurrence of industrial accident for which first aid may be helpful due to uncontrolled bleeding, lack of breathing and/or heart stoppage) the Noble toolpusher or driller, having received first aid and CPR training, may (as a collateral assignment) provide first aid and/or CPR while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.

Noble does not believe that the above captioned regulations were intended to cover its particular land drilling industry under the facts as outlined above. For clarification in this regard, Noble has contacted its industry's trade organization, the IADC, which Noble understands has filed a request for exemption with the Department of Labor. Noble also understands that exemptions have already been granted to the construction, farming and maritime industries.

However, pending the outcome of this request for exemption for the land drilling industry, Noble desires to receive an informal ruling from the Department of Labor as to whether or not Noble is legally required to comply with these regulations, particularly those pertaining to HVB vaccinations and record keeping. The regulations themselves seem to have been intended to apply to the employees of healthcare services and related industries whose normal job responsibilities frequently put them at risk.

As an aside, Noble also understands that there is currently a shortage of the HBV vaccine, with a pressing need to make same available on a priority basis to those first aid providers who work for emergency response services, health care clinics and other workplaces where first aid is rendered as a regular function of their jobs (versus Noble toolpushers and drillers who as collateral assignment providers seldom, if ever, come in contact with these blood pathogens). In any event, Noble awaits the Department of Labors reply.


Larry G. Richardson
Director of Safety & Training
Noble Drilling Services Inc.