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.

March 23, 1993

Mr. Charles H. Williams
Director, Codes and Standards
National Electrical Contractors Association
3 Bethesda Metro Center
Suite 1100
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

Dear Mr. Williams:

This is in further response to your letter of January 14, requesting clarification of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens."

Your letter was written in response to correspondence you received from Timothy J. Gauthier of the National Electrical Contractors Association, Oregon-Columbia chapter, who felt that because OSHA "exempted construction from the bloodborne pathogen rule," the General Duty Clause should not be used to cite violations of the rule. Please allow us to clear up some misconceptions that both of your letters reflect.

While the Agency did announce that the bloodborne pathogens standard would not apply to the construction industry, OSHA did not state that the construction industry was free from the hazards of bloodborne pathogens. Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, also known as the General Duty Clause, 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. Therefore, the General Duty Clause will not be used to cite for violations of the bloodborne pathogens rule, but for failure to provide a workplace free from bloodborne pathogen hazards.

You should also be aware that section 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2) requires that the employer instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of 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.

Additionally, 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.

OSHA also requires the provision, use, and maintenance of personal protective equipment when there is an exposure to hazardous conditions that could cause injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation, or physical contact. This includes the need to use gloves, gowns, masks, eye protectors, and/or resuscitation equipment when appropriate for rendering first aid or other medical assistance to prevent contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials.

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


Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs