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.

August 6, 1996

Mr. Peter L. de la Cruz
1001 G Street, NW Suite 500
West Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Mr. de la Cruz:

This is in response to your correspondence dated May 24, concerning the medical surveillance requirement in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Vinyl Chloride Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1017.

The interpretation of the vinyl chloride standard provided in Mr. Leo Carey's correspondence dated June 30, 1987, represents current OSHA policy. Paragraph (k)(2)(i) addresses a situation that was found in vinyl chloride and polyvinyl chloride manufacturing plants prior to January 2, 1975, the effective date of the vinyl chloride standard. At that time employee overexposure to vinyl chloride was common, and extensive employee exposure monitoring and recordkeeping were not performed. With this paragraph, OSHA recognized that exposure monitoring for vinyl chloride and recordkeeping were not common practices. Therefore, OSHA required more stringent medical surveillance requirements for employees who worked in the vinyl chloride industry for 10 years or more as of January 2, 1975. For these individuals medical surveillance must be made available every six months.

In contrast, since January 2, 1975, medical surveillance is required annually only when employees are exposed to vinyl chloride in excess of the action level. The provision detailed in (k)(2)(i) is not applicable to the current situation because since 1975, workplace exposure to vinyl chloride has been regulated, and employee exposure has been monitored.

We appreciate your interest in occupational safety and health. If you have further concerns, please feel free to contact this office for additional information.

Sincerely,

Ruth McCully,
Director Office of Health Compliance Assistance

May 24, 1996

VIA HAND DELIVER

Ruth McCully
Director, Office of Health Compliance Assistance
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor,
N-3467 200 Constitution Avenue,
N.W. Washington, D.C. 20210

Re: Medical Surveillance Requirement in the Vinyl Chloride Standard, 29 C.F.R. 1910.1710.

Dear Ruth:

Enclosed please find two letters that were sent by our client, CONDEA Vista (formerly Vista), to John B. Miles, Director, Directorate of Compliance Programs.

Vista recently requested our assistance in obtaining a response to their letter of May 25, 1995. Having determined that the May 25 letter was received by Compliance Programs, but inadvertently misplaced before reaching Health Compliance for response, we are resubmitting the letter to your attention and respectfully request a response to Condea Vista's inquiry. In particular, we are trying to confirm whether OSHA still views as valid the interpretation of the medical surveillance provisions of the vinyl chloride standard expressed in a 1987 letter by Leo Carey. 29 C.F.R. Section 1910.1017(k). If so, written confirmation would be appreciated.

Should you have any questions regarding the enclosed, or if we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Peter L. de la Cruz

Enclosures

May 25, 1995

Mr. John B. Miles
Director of the Directorate of Compliance Programs USDOL-OSHA
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Room 3468
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Mr. Miles:

Vista Chemical is a producer of Vinyl Chlorine Monomer. In a recent review of the medical surveillance requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1017, the attached letter was found. It is an interpretive letter signed by Leo Carey in 1987.

This letter states a rather unique interpretation of 1910.1017(k)(2)(i) regarding the criteria for which employees are required to receive 6-month medical surveillance exams.

Can you please provide Vista with an opinion on the validity of the interpretations found in this letter or provide an alternate option on the applicability criteria. Please send the response to the undersigned at Vista Chemical Company, 900 Threadneedle, Houston, TX 77079.

I can be reached at 713-588-3445.

Sincerely,

Thomas G. Grumbles,
C.I.H. Manager,
Product Safety and Occupational Health

June 30, 1987

Mr. Michael Salyers:

This is in response to your letter of May 1, 1987, to Mr. David Smith, concerning medical surveillance requirements in the vinyl chloride standard, 29 CFR 1910.1017. There is no indication in the vinyl chloride standard or its preamble that an employee must be exposed above the action level for at least some certain minimum number of days per year before the employer becomes obligated to afford the employee medical surveillance. Accordingly, employers must offer medical surveillance to any employee who is exposed at least one day per year above the action level for vinyl chloride. As to the question of whether employers must afford medical surveillance to employees who once were but are not now exposed above the action level for vinyl chloride, the only insight is contained in the preamble to the vinyl chloride standard, which appeared in the 39 FR 35890, Federal Register, Volume 39, Number 194, October 4, 1974, pages 35890-35896. On page 39 FR 35895, 35895 the following statement is made, "In these instances, medical surveillance of affected employees will provide baseline data for future evaluation of their health, even if both monitoring and medical surveillance are discounted because improved controls reduce concentrations below the action level." We deduce from the statement that employers need not offer medical surveillance to employees who once were but are not now exposed above the action level for vinyl chloride.

Provision 29 CFR 1910.1017(k)(2)(i) requires scheduling of medical surveillance examinations at least every 6 months for each employee who has been employed in vinyl chloride or polyvinyl chloride manufacturing for 10 years or longer. The provision is directed at employees who started working in vinyl chloride or polyvinyl chloride manufacturing plants 10 or more years prior to January 1, 1975, which is the effective date of the permanent vinyl chloride standard.

Prior to 1975 vinyl chloride contaminated much of the air in many vinyl chloride and polyvinyl chloride manufacturing plants and many of these plants did not do extensive employee exposure monitoring and recordkeeping. Hence the applicability of 29 CFR 1910.1017(k)(2)(i) hinges on whether or not the employee's first date of employment in vinyl chloride or polyvinyl chloride plants preceded January 2, 1965, and not on an accounting of whether or not the employee's number of days of actual exposure totaled 10 or more years.

Presently, 29 CFR 1910.1017(k)(2)(i) applies when the following conditions exist (1) An employee is currently exposed above the action level for vinyl chloride and (2) the employee's first employment in vinyl chloride and/or polyvinyl chloride manufacturing plants preceded January 2, 1965.

We appreciate the opportunity to clarify this matter for you. If you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Leo Carey,
Director Directorate of Field Coordination