Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

August 2, 1994

Mr. David D. Cahill
Construction Safety Specialist
Black & Veatch Architects
and Engineers
8400 Word Parkway
Post Office Box 8405
Kansas City, Missouri 64114

Dear Mr. Cahill:

Thank you for your letter regarding your concerns about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens," and the applicability to electric utilities.

The bloodborne pathogens standard addresses the broad issue of occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials and is not meant solely for employees in health care settings. Since there is no population that is risk free for human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis B virus infectivity, any employee who has occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials is included within the scope of this standard.

It is important to note that the definition of "occupational exposure" comprises the reasonable anticipation that the employee will come into contact with these fluids during the course of performing his or her work duties. Therefore, OSHA anticipates that this standard will impact upon all non-health care industries in a similar fashion, i.e., that employees who are designated as responsible for rendering first aid or medical assistance as part of their job duties are to be covered by this standard. This is because it is reasonable to anticipate that an employee designated to render first aid will have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.

Your question "concerning whether the initial assumption in the IQ [interpretive quip] is correct...are first aid trained personnel [in the utility industry] obligatory?" was prompted by the author of the initial letter. OSHA was reiterating the author's statement which noted that the electric utility industry must assign first-aid trained personnel.

The reference that is made in the company's policy statement regarding voluntary acts is keeping with OSHA's view. It is correct that employees who perform "Good Samaritan" acts are not, per se, covered by this standard, although OSHA would encourage an employer to offer follow-up procedures to an employee who experiences an exposure incident as the result of performing a "Good Samaritan" act. This is because such an act does not constitute "occupational exposure," as defined by the standard.

The key to this issue is not whether employees have been trained in first aid, but whether they are also designated as responsible for rendering medical assistance. For instance, while all line workers may be trained in first aid and CPR, not all of these employees would necessarily be designated to render first aid. For example, a six-person crew could have two of the six employees designated to render medical assistance and also to be covered by the protections of 29 CFR 1910.1030. The standard does not necessarily apply to employees who are trained in first aid (especially when the company only requires that employees perform forms of emergency assistance that do not involve exposure to body fluids) but rather to those employees who are required by the employer to actually administer first aid.

However, there is a situation referred to as "de facto" designation which needs to be recognized by the employer. If an employee is expected, as part of his or her job duties, to render first aid or medical assistance, that employee is covered by the requirements of the standard. Such an expectation would constitute a de facto designation of the employee and OSHA, additionally, would require the employer to comply with the elements of the standard.

Please note that OSHA has issued a policy statement specifying that failure to offer the hepatitis B vaccine pre-exposure to persons who render first aid only as a collateral duty, will be considered a de minimis, or technical, violation carrying no penalties, provided that a number of conditions are met. These are described in OSHA Instruction CPL 2-2.44C, "Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard." All other requirements of the standard continue to apply to designated first aid providers.

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


John B. Miles, Jr.
Directorate of Compliance Programs