- 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.
October 23, 1992
Mr. Thomas E. Schroeder
Smith and Ruff
Attorneys at Law
6100 Fairview Road
Charlotte, North Carolina 28210
Dear Mr. Schroeder:
This is in response to your letter of September 17, regarding the applicability of 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens", to employees electric cooperatives. 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. For instance, while all line workers may be trained in first aid and CPR, not all of these employees would necessarily be designated to render first aid. For example, a six-person crew could have two of the six employees designated to render medical assistance and also to be covered by the benefits of 29 CFR 1910.1030. The standard does not necessarily apply to employees who are trained in first aid (especially when the company only requires that employees perform forms of emergency assistance that do not involve exposure to body fluids) but rather to those employees who are required by the employer to actually administer 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.
You should be aware that the State of North Carolina operates its own occupational safety and health program which may impose more stringent requirements than federal OSHA. You should therefore contact that agency for further guidance at the following address:
North Carolina Department of Labor 4 West Edenton Street Raleigh, North Carolina 27601 Telephone: (919) 733-0360
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
September 17, 1992
Mr. James F. Foster
U.S. Department of Labor
Office of Public Affairs,
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20210
Re: Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, 29 CFR Part 1910.1030
Dear Mr. Foster:
Our law firm represents numerous electric cooperatives in their labor and employment law matters. There is a great deal of concern and uncertainty concerning the application of 29 CFR 1910.1030 to these cooperatives.
The electric cooperatives we represent are in the business of transmitting and distributing electrical power. Each cooperative has outside employees occupying positions ranging from equipment operator to lineman. Most cooperatives will also have right-of- way crews that clear trees and brush from power lines. All of the employees work under situations where they are exposed to considerable hazards such as high voltage electric lines or equipment like chainsaws or bushhogs.
Most employees are trained in CPR and rudimentary first aid. Minor cuts and scrapes are frequent, but may require no more than self-administered first aid. Unfortunately, situations may occur every few years where an employee is seriously injured and procedures such as a pole-top rescue and CPR must be administered while waiting for the arrival of an emergency medical team.
The question arises whether any or all of these employees can reasonably anticipate exposure to bloodborne pathogens during the performance of their duties. I am in receipt of a letter prepared by Patricia K. Clark, Director of Compliance Programs, that states that OSHA will be changing instruction CPL 2-2.44C, "Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard", to state that the standard does not apply to construction work as defined in 29 CFR 1910.12. If such is the case, it would seem that the standard should not apply to some work done by the cooperative such as the construction of power lines, but might apply to other work such as the maintenance of power lines or the clearing of power line right-of-ways.
The term "reasonably anticipate" may be very useful under some circumstances, but in many industries it provides little, if any, guidance. Any information or guidance that you can provide to me concerning the application of the bloodborne pathogens standard to outside workers for electrical cooperatives would be much appreciated.
Very truly yours,
SMITH AND RUFF
Thomas E. Schroeder