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.

February 12, 1993

Mr. Peter R. Read
Divisional Director of Safety
Magma Cooper Company
San Manual Operations
Post Office Box M
San Manuel, Arizona 85631-0460

Dear Mr. Read:

Thank you for your letter dated October 8, 1992 requesting an interpretation of the inorganic arsenic (29 CFR 1910.1018) and lead (29 CFR 1910.1025) standards, as they relate to the cleaning of protective footwear.

Both standards require the employer to provide shoes or disposable shoe coverlets to employees (at no cost to employees) exposed to lead and/or inorganic arsenic above the permissible exposure limit (without regard to the use of respirators), or where the possibility of skin (or eye) irritation exists. Therefore, you must initially provide shoes or shoe coverlets to your employees, and repair or replace them as needed to maintain their effectiveness. It would be acceptable for employees to vacuum the employer-provided shoes at the end of each work shift, as long as the vacuums are used and emptied in a manner that would minimize the reentry of lead and/or inorganic arsenic into the workplace.

Also, shoes or shoe coverlets must be removed at the end of the work shift only in "change rooms" provided for that purpose. The change rooms must be equipped with separate storage facilities for protective work clothing and equipment and for street clothing which prevent cross-contamination. The shoes must be kept in the storage facility rather than being taken or worn home by employees.

Since your concern mainly rests with providing shoes to your employees, you might want to consider providing shoe coverlets as an acceptable alternative. Disposable shoe coverlets are currently available from a number of vendors.

We appreciate the opportunity to clarify this issue for you, with respect to federal regulations. However, please be aware that Arizona administers its own occupational safety and health program, through the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH), under the provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act the (Act) of 1970. As part of that program, the State is responsible for the enforcement of occupational safety and health standards in the State, subject to monitoring by Federal OSHA. We recommend that future inquiries be addressed to ADOSH at the following address:

                 Larry Etchechury, 
                 Industrial Commission of Arizona 
                 800 W. Washington 
                 Phoenix, Arizona  85007

                 Telephone:  (602) 542-5795


Roger A. Clark,
Directorate of Compliance Programs

October 8, 1992

Ms. Ruth McCully
Office of Health Compliance Assistance
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Ms. McCully,

By letter dated September 9, 1992, from James J. Concannon, Director, Office of Variance Determination, I have been advised that our application for a permanent variance from 1910.1018(j) & 1910.1025(g) has been referred to your office for evaluation. Our application requested that we be permitted to require the cleaning of protective footwear, provided and worn by our employees working in an inorganic arsenic and lead environment, with the HEPA filter vacuum system at the conclusion of the workday in lieu of providing shoes to those employees. We noted, in our application, that the regulations clearly authorize vacuuming of protective work clothing or equipment worn by such employees before they enter lunch rooms.

If current regulations will permit us to require employees to vacuum their boots at the conclusion of the workday and do not mandate that we, instead, provide them boots, we would appreciate that clarification. If, however, the regulations mandate that shoes be provided to the employees and cannot be interpreted as permitting the utilization of the HEPA filter vacuum system in lieu thereof, then we reiterate our application for permanent variance and request that you so advise the Office of Variance Determination.

Copies of our application and Mr. Concannon's response are attached for your convenience.

Any expediency in this matter would be appreciated.


Peter R. Read
Divisional Director of Safety