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.

December 23, 1992

Mr. Robert A. Georgine
Building and Construction Trades Department
Suite 603
815 Sixteenth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-4189

Dear Bob:

This is in response to your letter in which you expressed concern at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) policy decision to "exempt" the construction industry from the application of Section 29 CFR 1910.1030, "The Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard." OSHA's decision did not provide an exemption to the construction industry from application of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard; rather it clarified that it was not OSHA's intention for the standard to cover construction activities and operations.

On May 19, 1992, Dorothy L. Strunk, Acting Assistant Secretary of OSHA, informed the OSHA Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (the Committee) that a determination had been made that the bloodborne pathogens standard does not apply to the construction industry. She explained that the Agency's decision was based on a concern that the construction industry was not explicitly afforded notice and, in fact, did not participate in the rulemaking process. Neither the proposal nor the standard specifically mentions the construction industry, and the Committee was not formally consulted regarding this standard. Therefore, OSHA's Directorate of Compliance Programs was directed to clarify that the standard does not apply to the construction industry in the first revision of CPL 2-2.44C, "Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens."

(Note: OSHA Instruction CPL 2-2.44 was cancelled and revised as CPL 2-2.69 on November 27, 2001)

It should be noted that, while the bloodborne pathogens standard does not apply to construction work, as defined in 29 CFR 1910.12(b), it does apply to employees performing maintenance activities who experience occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. OSHA expects the construction employer performing maintenance activities to take the following precautions as required by the following referenced standards:

Section 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2) requires that the employer instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidanceof unsafe conditions and in the regulations applicable to his or her work environment in order to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury. Under this provision, the employer is required to train designated first aid providers in the hazards of bloodborne pathogens.

Section 29 CFR 1926.25 requires that containers be provided for the collection and separation of waste. This includes containers for sharps and other hazardous waste which may be generated from rendering medical assistance.

Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, which requires employers to furnish a workplace which is free from recognized hazards which may cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm, may be applied, where appropriate, to industries not covered by the bloodborne pathogens standard. Section 5(a)(1) citations must, of course, meet the requirements outlined in the Field Operations Manual, Chapter IV, and will only be issued where there is a serious and recognized hazard which cannot be abated by implementing an abatement method required by the above standards.

Should you have any further questions, please have a member of your staff contact [the Office of Health Enforcement, at 202-693-2190]. Thank you for your interest in worker safety and health.



[Corrected 10/29/02]