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.

January 26, 1993

Douglas A. Witte, DDS
Periodontics
1029 East Idel
Tyler, Texas 75701

Dear Mr. Witte:

This is in response to your letter of November 10, addressed to Gilbert Saulter, Regional Administrator in Dallas. You requested clarification of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens". Specifically, you asked if the recapping device you submitted, Safe-Cap, meets the intent of the standard.

As you know, the standard prohibits recapping of contaminated needles unless recapping is required by a specific medical procedure or unless no alternative is feasible. If recapping must be performed, it must be accomplished by means of a recapping device which adequately protects the hands or a properly performed one hand scoop technique.

In general, OSHA does not review products as you have requested and the agency does not endorse or approve products. The final determination of compliance must take into account all factors pertaining to the use of such devices at a particular worksite. This must include an evaluation through direct observation of employee work practices as well as an evaluation of the equipment or devices on their own.

In this case no accompanying literature or description of the device was submitted for us to consult. For example, once the device is adjusted to hold a particular size cap it is unclear how a new adjustment is to be made to accommodate a larger cap. It appears, from our cursory review, that the device would not meet the intent of the standard as it does not adequately protect the hand holding the device from accidental puncture. Employees may place their hand anywhere along the length of the device, including at a point in close proximity to the cap. In such a case OSHA could not consider it to provide acceptable protection for use with a two-handed recapping procedure.

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

Sincerely,



Roger A. Clark,
Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs




November 10, 1992

Gilbert J. Saulter
Regional Administrator
US Department of Labor
Federal Building
525 Griffin Street
Room 602
Dallas, TX 75202

Dear Sir:

Current regulations by OSHA regarding needle use and recapping relative to the prevention of blood borne disease transmission is of great concern to me and my office staff.

Although OSHA recommends that needles not be recapped, there are instances where this is not practical and capping is necessary to insure the safety to the patient as well as personnel.

A product, Safe-Cap, has been recommended to us for these instances when recapping is necessary that appears to meet your criteria. It seems to be practical and easy to use, thereby insuring that my personnel will, indeed, use it.

Does this product, if properly utilized, meet OSHA standards? I would appreciate your opinion in this matter. Thank you.

Sincerely,



Doug Witte, DDS