- Standard Number:
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.
April 19, 1993
Mr. Ornel Cotera
Fraternal Order of Police
Miami Lodge No. 20
3399 S.W. Third Avenue
Miami, Florida 33145
Dear Mr. Cotera:
This is in further response to your letter of February 12, requesting an interpretation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens."
Your letter asked whether it is a requirement of the employer to clean, maintain, and/or dispose of police uniforms after contamination. Federal OSHA does not have jurisdiction over local and state law enforcement personnel and therefore cannot enforce the requirements of the bloodborne pathogens standard in your workplace. However, in response to your specific inquiry the following information regarding OSHA requirements for the private sector is provided.
The standard requires that the employer determine which, if any, employees have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). It is also the employer's responsibility to determine what, if any, personal protective equipment (PPE) is appropriate. PPE will be considered "appropriate" only if it does not allow blood or OPIM to pass through or to reach the employees' work clothes, street clothes, undergarments, skin, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time when the protective equipment will be used.
An employee's uniform may or may not qualify as PPE. An employee's uniform may even be considered PPE in some instances, but not in others, depending on the circumstances and the duties being performed. If an employee's uniform does not serve as PPE or if, for example, the employer has provided separate garments to protect the uniform, then the uniform would not be covered by the requirements of the standard; the protective garments would be covered. If, however, a uniform provides an appropriate level of protection for workplace conditions and it is worn, relied upon, and/or functions as a protective garment, the uniform would be covered by the requirements of the standard.
In accordance with paragraphs (d)(3)(i-v) of the standard, PPE must be provided, laundered, repaired, and replaced by the employer. Additionally, the standard requires that all PPE be removed prior to leaving the work area, which means that if the uniform does function as PPE, employees may not wear the uniform home. It must be placed in an appropriately designated area or container for storage, washing, decontamination, or disposal.
You may be interested to know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the solvents and heat used in the dry cleaning process are sufficient to destroy bloodborne pathogens. For feasibility reasons and pending information to the contrary, OSHA will accept dry cleaning of PPE as complying with the requirement to decontaminate such equipment.
We hope this information is responsive to your concerns. Thank you for your interest in worker safety and health.
Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs