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.

November 4, 1992

Dr. Michael D. Decker, MD, MPH
Department of Preventative
Medicine School of Medicine
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee 37232-2637

Dear Dr. Decker:

This is in response to your letter of July 9, addressed to Dr. Ralph Yodaiken, in which you requested an interpretation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens." Your letter was forwarded to this office for response. We apologize for the delay in this reply.

Specifically, you requested clarification regarding an employer's responsibility for laundering an employee's personal clothing in the event it becomes contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials either through failure of protective equipment or through an unexpected occurrence. As you have noted, the standard only addresses an employer's responsibility with respect to laundering of contaminated personal protective equipment, and, depending on feasibility, it may be inappropriate for OSHA to issue citations for failure to launder personal garments that have become contaminated. However, if the contamination of personal garments resulted from the employer's failure to evaluate a hazard or to provide appropriate personal protective equipment, citations may be issued.

OSHA encourages employers to assure all required protective measures are used to minimize or eliminate the likelihood of such occurrences, and to provide for laundering of such contaminated garments to the extent feasible in cases where contamination does occur.

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