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.

April 7, 1994

F. Edwin Froelich, M.D., J.D.
Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge
2300 N Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037

Dear Dr. Froelich:

This is in further response to your letter of February 18, addressed to Joseph A. Dear, Assistant Secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), concerning whether containers which meet the criteria of the U.S. Department of Transportation Infectious Substance regulations (DOT ISR) would be in compliance with the requirements for containers as listed in OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030.

The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard is performance oriented in that compliance with the standard is determined by the ability of the container to meet the criteria specified in the standard under the anticipated conditions of usage. You asked if the usage of a DOT ISR-approved container that is properly labeled in accordance with OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard would automatically meet the engineering control requirements of the OSHA standard for specimen containers. Considering the performance oriented nature of the standard, OSHA does not require that containers be in compliance with DOT ISR. It would appear, however, that containers which are in compliance with DOT ISR would also be in compliance with the structural requirements for containers detailed in OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard.

You also asked whether specimen containers which provide less protection than a DOT ISR-approved container can be used to comply with the Bloodborne Pathogens standard. The standard does not specify detailed tests of performance as you reference with the DOT ISR-approved containers. Specimen containers which do not meet the DOT ISR requirements for containers may be used to comply with the container requirements of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard provided that the container meets the performance requirements detailed in paragraph (d) of 29 CFR 1910.1030. Compliance with the performance oriented nature of the standard is judged by the ability of the container to meet the standard's requirements in consideration of the specimen being contained.

Please contact this office if we may be of further assistance.


H. Berrien Zettler, Deputy Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs