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.

March 29, 1995

Gerhard Gschwandtner,
President Comprehensive Monitoring Services, Inc.
3510 University Drive
Durham, North Carolina 27707

Dear Mr. Gschwandtner:

This is in further response to your letter of January 20, on behalf of a nationwide medical equipment service company that services ethylene oxide gas sterilizers and other medical equipment for hospitals. You are seeking clarification of the company's requirements under the Ethylene Oxide Standard for issuing personal protective equipment including respirators to their staff that service routinely small ethylene oxide sterilizers.

The company is responsible for complying with all elements of the Ethylene Oxide Standard. Therefore, with respect to your specific question, the company is responsible for determining the appropriate respirators and other protective equipment for servicing small ethylene oxide sterilizers and assuring its employees that perform the servicing are provided the items. It cannot pass this responsibility on to the hospital receiving the service. Moreover, the assumption that all hospitals visited will have the appropriate respirators and other required protective equipment on-hand is incorrect. Nonetheless, if the company can arrange for the hospitals it visits to provide the proper respirators and other protective equipment, this would be acceptable. In such a circumstance, the company remains liable for compliance, however. This means, if a company employee were not provided an appropriate respirator or other appropriate protective equipment, or if any other noncompliance with the respirator or protective equipment program requirements were to occur, then the violation would belong to the company not the hospital; and it would be issued any citation.

We appreciate the opportunity to clarify this matter. Should you require additional information, please contact OSHA's Office of Health Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-8036.

Sincerely,



Joseph A. Dear
Assistant Secretary

Enclosure



February 7, 1995

Mr. Gerhard Gschwandtner
President Comprehensive Monitoring Services, Inc.
3510 University Drive Durham, North Carolina 27707

Dear Mr. Gschwandtner:

This is an interim response to your letter of January 20, 1995 addressed to Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Dear, concerning the distribution and use of personal protective equipment (respirators) when servicing small gas sterilizers.

We are in the process of gathering information on OSHA requirements in this regard. As soon as the information is received, you will be promptly notified by a member of my staff.

Sincerely,



John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs

Enclosure



January 20, 1995

Mr. Joseph A. Dear
Administrator Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Mr. Dear

I am writing you this letter requesting advice on behalf of a nationwide medical equipment service company. This company services ethylene oxide gas sterilizers and other medical equipment.

The question is ..."Is this company required to issue personal protective equipment including respirators to their staff for routinely servicing small gas sterilizers?" Alternatively, can their staff use the protective equipment that hospitals are already required to have on-hand and to use in case of emergencies and also for routine in-house maintenance of gas sterilizers?

It seems to me they should use the hospital's equipment and follow the hospital's written policies and procedures for the safe use of ethylene oxide and emergency action plans. Hospitals already have sophisticated polices and safety equipment in accordance with the occupational exposure standards for ethylene oxide.

We are asking you this question because while the company is interested in health and safety, they also do not want to incur unnecessary expense and require their people to lug around extra equipment which they may never have to use. I might also add that they would be the only nationwide service company that outfits its staff with such equipment. Can you please consider our concern and advice us in this regard?

We greatly appreciate your assistance and advice.

Sincerely,



Gerhard Gschwandtner,
President