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.

December 13, 1994

The Honorable J. Bennett Johnston United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Johnston:

Thank you for your letter of October 27, on behalf of your constituent, Mrs. James Hannie of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Mrs. Hannie wrote to your questioning why abortion clinics do not comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and guidelines as other doctors and hospitals are required to.

OSHA inspections are based upon (in order of priority), a worker fatality or catastrophe, knowledge of an imminent danger situation affecting employees, a compliant or referral, and our general schedule targeting system.

Abortion clinics, like other healthcare facilities are covered by, and must comply with all applicable OSHA safety and health standards. If there are clinics that your constituent is familiar with that are not in compliance with OSHA regulations it is likely that they have not yet been inspected under one of the above procedures. Your constituent has the right to file a non-formal complaint regarding the alleged hazards. A nonformal complaint is a compliance procedure whereby a compliant can be filed against a facility by someone that does not work there. The complaint is handled by letter with a written response required. An inspection by an OSHA compliance officer can be conducted if the written response is inadequate or if no response is received within the required time period.

If your constituent is interested in filing such a compliant she can contact the local area office at:

U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA 2156 Wooddale Blvd. Hoover Annex, Suite 200 Baton Rouge, LA 70806


For your information, the OSHA regulations most commonly violated in the healthcare industry include the bloodborne pathogens and the hazard communication standards. The bloodborne pathogens standard addresses the broad issue of occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials. Covered under this standard are requirements for worker education and training, hepatitis B vaccination, personal protective equipment, engineering and administrative controls, infectious waste disposal, and so forth. The hazard communication standard addresses worker exposure to hazardous chemicals. Covered under this standard are requirements for a written program, chemical labeling, providing material safety data sheets on all hazardous chemicals, and employee training.

We hope this information is responsive to your concerns and the concerns of your constituent. Thank you for your interest in worker health and safety.


Joseph A. Dear Assistant Secretary

October 27, 1994

Ms. Geri Palast Department of Labor Congressional Affairs 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Ms. Palast:

Because of my desire to be responsive to all inquiries, I respectfully request your consideration of the enclosed material.

I will appreciate your findings and views, in duplicate form, along with the return of the enclosures by November 28, 1994.

With kindest regards, I am.


J. Bennett Johnston United States Senator

JBJ/etr Enclosure