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.

February 22, 1996

Mr. Gerald P. Cavaluzzi
Attorney and Counselor at Law
34 Beekman Avenue
Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520

Dear Mr. Cavaluzzi:

This is in response to your letter dated October 6, 1995, to Assistant Secretary Joseph Dear of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Please accept my apology for the delay in this reply.

In your letter, you requested interpretations of OSHA's Sanitation (29 CFR 1910.141) and Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) (29 CFR 1910.120) standards with regard to the requirement for change rooms whenever employees are required to wear personal protective clothing. Specifically, you questioned if, in two of your client's workplace operations, showers and change rooms must be located on the actual worksite or could they be provided at a centralized, fixed location serving multiple worksites.

Whenever a particular standard, such as HAZWOPER, requires the use of personal protective equipment, OSHA's Sanitation Standard (29 CFR 1910.141(e)) establishes the requirement for employers to provide change rooms based on the potential for contamination with toxic materials. OSHA also established the requirement in the Sanitation standard in part to provide employees with privacy while changing their clothes and to offer separate storage facilities for both street and work clothes. As such, this requirement only applies to situations where employees must change their clothes (i.e., take off their street clothes).

Please be aware that the HAZWOPER standard requirement (29 CFR 1910.120(n)(7)) for showers and change rooms is triggered by an expected project duration of 6 months or greater. The intent of the change room requirement for both of the standards is the prevention of contamination of an employee's street clothes and the subsequent spread of hazardous substances to offsite areas such as an employee's home. Consequently, change rooms must be provided at the worksite where the exposure occurs. Requiring employees to use their personal vehicles to travel to a central change room facility serving multiple sites would result in potential contamination of the workers' vehicles and the subsequent spread of contamination to other sites and to the worker's homes.

Based on the information provided in your letter, it appears that the HAZWOPER standard requirement to provide onsite change rooms and showers would not apply to your client for the two workplace scenarios you have described. In the first scenario, your client's activities on a hazardous waste site do not exceed 6 months, thus the shower and change room requirement of the HAZWOPER standard would not apply. In the second scenario, your client's employees perform short-term operations and process engineering work at municipal waste water treatment plants. In this case, normal (non-emergency) municipal waste water treatment plant operations are not within the scope of the HAZWOPER standard.

We are not, however, able to determine whether the change room requirements of the Sanitation standard apply to these scenarios. If you have determined that disposable personal protective equipment can be effectively worn over street clothes (i.e., no contamination of skin or street clothes during work operations and when removing the personal protective equipment) then the Sanitation standard would not apply. Your client is ultimately responsible for evaluating workplace exposures to determine the need for onsite showers or change rooms. In addition, your client must ensure that employees are provided a safe and clean location in which to don any needed protective clothing and equipment and that personnel, clothing, and equipment are effectively decontaminated prior to the employee's leaving the site.

We hope that this letter is helpful. If you have additional questions, please contact OSHA's Office of Health Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-8036.


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

October 6, 1995

Mr. Joseph Dear
Assistant Secretary for
Occupational Safety and Health
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

RE: Interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.120 - Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response; Interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.141 - Sanitation

Dear Mr. Dear:

I am legal counsel to a professional engineering consulting firm that may be subject to the above-referenced regulations in its environmental engineering practice. On behalf of my client, I request an interpretation of the 29 CFR 1910.141 and 29 CFR 1910.120 requirements with regard to shower facilities and Change Rooms.

Specifically, clarification is requested regarding the need to provide change rooms whenever employees are required by a particular standard to wear personal protective clothing because of the possibility of contamination with toxic materials. I have outlined below two specific areas of concern.

1. During hazardous waste site characterization (remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS)) work, my client may assign one or more employees to direct a driller in the installation of monitoring wells; or to take, package and ship soil and water samples; or to conduct other site activities. The site work is controlled by a written Site Health and Safety Plan (HASP) which contains the requirements for certain PPE ensembles and decontamination. These ensembles are decontaminated, removed and disposed of on site. The duration of field activities may be one to ten days, rarely longer. My client's employees often use their vehicles as the site command post. Consistent with the practices of most companies in this business, on-site shower/change facilities are usually not required in the HASP because, at this stage of the field study program: the exposures are not expected to be significant; the exposures do not exceed levels published in 1910.1000 or 1910.1001; and Level D or modified Level D PPE is the rule. In the opinion of my client's Health and Safety Director (CIH, CSP), providing shower/change rooms at my client's permanent fixed office locations serving multiple small projects would provide adequate hygienic controls and be cost effective. Please confirm that this approach is acceptable under the 29 CFR 1910.120 regulations for these types of projects.

2. During wastewater operations and process engineering work conducted at municipal waste water treatment plants and collection systems, my client's employees may be physically exposed to raw and treated sewage which may be considered hazardous because of bacteria contamination. PPE ensembles usually include hard hats, face shields, gloves, and coveralls or TYVEK suits. Again, project durations are short and sometimes only require as little as one-half day at the facility per week. Access to the client's changing areas and showers is sometimes not available. In the opinion of my client's Health and Safety Director, providing shower/change rooms at our permanent fixed office locations serving multiple small projects would provide adequate hygienic controls and be cost effective. Please confirm that this is acceptable under the 29 CFR 1910.141 regulations for these types of projects.

As this is an ongoing, daily issue, I look forward to receiving a response as soon as possible. Please contact me at 914 641-2950 if you have any questions or if further information is required. Thank you for your attention to this request.

Very truly yours,

Gerard P. Cavaluzzi