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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.
January 23, 1995
David R. Miller, Ph.D.
Director Office of Environmental Safety
Baylor College of Medicine
One Baylor Plaza Houston, Texas 77030-3498
Dear Mr. Miller:
This is in response to your letter of October 5, 1994 addressed to Mr. John B. Miles, Jr., Director of Compliance programs, regarding the application of 29 CFR 1910.132 of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard to PPE hazard assessment and training for laboratory and clinical health care workers. Your letter was forwarded to our office for response. Please except our apology for the delay in our response.
In your letter you requested an interpretation of whether the training portions of the Laboratory Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1450, and the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030 comply with training requirements of 1910.132(f) and also, can the hazard assessments required in the Laboratory Standard and the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard comply with the hazard assessments specified in 1910.132(d)(2).
The answer is yes, if the hazard assessments and training for laboratory and clinical health care employees are pertinent for the hazards found in the workplace.
If you have any further questions regarding your request, please contact [the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance, telephone number (202) 693-1850].
Raymond E. Donnelly, Director
Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance
October 5, 1994
John B. Miles, Jr.
Director of Compliance Programs
200 Constitution Ave. NW Washington, DC 20210
Dear Mr. Miles:
This letter has been written to request an interpretation of the new final rule on personal protective equipment (PPE) published in the Federal Register Vol. 59, No. 66, pp. 16344-16364, April 6, 1994 as it relates to the Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in the Laboratory Standard (Lab Safety Standard), 29 CFR 1910.1450 and the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (Bloodborne Pathogens standard), 29 CFR 1910.1030. Baylor College of Medicine is a private nonindustrial employer with an SIC code of 8221. A part of Baylor's mission is research and development and delivery of patient care. The scope of Baylor's workplace environment includes laboratory use of hazardous chemicals as defined by the Lab Safety Standard and occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious agents as defined by the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.
The Lab Safety Standard requires the implementation of a Chemical Hygiene Plan, section (e)(2)(3), that establishes standard operating procedures relevant to safety and health considerations. This plan shall include measures to reduce employee exposures to hazardous chemicals including training on the use of personal protective equipment, section (f)(4)(c). The recordkeeping, section (j), does not require written certification of training given on the proper use of personal protective equipment. The Lab Safety Standard was written with the intent to recognize the unique characteristics of the laboratory workplace and the fact that "technically qualified" employees work in laboratories.
The final rule on personal protective equipment (PPE) as referenced above was written for general industry. Section (f) of the PPE Standard requires that employees receive training on the proper use of PPE to include written certification of the training.
Since the Lab Safety Standard establishes safety and health requirements for laboratory employees, including training mandates for use of personal protective equipment, it is our understanding that the Lab Safety Standard should supersede the training requirements of the new PPE final rule. Please provide us with clarification regarding the training requirements of these two standards as they apply to laboratory workers.
Because the Lab Safety Standard establishes standard operating procedures relevant to safety and health considerations, the employer is not required to assess employee exposure to any hazardous substance unless there is reason to believe that exposure levels exceed action levels, or in their absence, Permissible exposure limits (PEL's). In addition to safe standard operating procedures, the Chemical Hygiene Plan, Section (e) of the Lab Safety Standard provides additional employee protection when Safety Standard provides additional employee protection when working with particularly hazardous substances which include the establishment of designated work areas and use of containment devices. The recordkeeping, section (j) does not require a written hazard assessment of each laboratory.
The final rule on PPE mandates that the employer shall verify through written certification that a workplace hazard assessment has been performed, section (d)(2).
We understand that because the Lab Safety Standard requires a written plan detailing standard operating procedures that include hazard assessment measures for the unique characteristics of the laboratory workplace, individual written hazard assessments are not required. The incorporation in the Laboratory Safety Standard of a written Chemical Hygiene Plan addressing the hazards in the laboratory workplace supports our understanding that the Lab Safety Standard should supersede the written hazard assessment certification of the PPE final rule.
Section (d)(3) of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard mandates the use of PPE when there is occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Under section (g)(2) of this standard, the employee must be informed on the basis of selection, types and proper use of PPE.
In the clinical healthcare environment, the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard specifically addresses PPE training requirements mandated by the PPE final rule, section (f). Because the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard was intended to provide a safe and healthy work environment for the healthcare employee including the use of PPE, it is our understanding that the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard should supersede the PPE final rule as they relate to the training requirements for proper use, care and maintenance of PPE. Please provide us with clarification of the training requirements of the PPE final rule as they relate to the healthcare employee covered under the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.
The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard Exposure Control Plan, section (c), is an assessment plan designed to eliminate or minimize employee exposure from bloodborne pathogens. The Exposure Control Plan requires an exposure determination, section (c)(2), including a list of all tasks and procedures in which occupational exposure occurs.
The PPE final rule also requires a written certification that a workplace hazard assessment has been performed, section (d)(2). Because the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires a written Exposure Control Plan including a workplace exposure determination, it is our understanding that these requirements should supersede the requirement of a written certification of workplace hazard assessment required by the new final rule on PPE. Please provide us with clarification of the requirement that a written hazard assessment is mandated under the PPE final rule as it relates to health care employees covered by the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.
Baylor College of Medicine is specifically covered by the OSHA Lab Safety Standard and Bloodborne Pathogens Standard which provide adequate safety and health requirements including those mandated by the new final rule on PPE. With the issuance of the final rule on PPE, there appear to be conflicts in the requirements for PPE compliance as it relates to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and Laboratory Safety Standard which specifically apply to the work environment at Baylor.
Please clarify which standards shall apply to PPE hazard assessment and training for laboratory and clinical health care employees. If you have any questions, please call (713)798-6619 or (713)798-6652. Thank you for your time and consideration of this inquiry.
On Behalf of Baylor College of Medicine Sincerely,
David R. Miller, Ph.D.
Director Office of Environmental Safety