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.

November 26, 1996

Mr. Stanley D. Sorenson
Senior Industrial Hygiene Specialist
220-2E-02, 3M Center
3M Company St.
Paul, MN 55144

Dear Mr. Sorenson:

This is in response to your letter of November 6, requesting an interpretation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding a possible conflict between exposure record retention related to 29 C.F.R. 1910.146 and C.F.R. 1910.1020 (formerly 29 C.F.R. 1910.20).

You stated and asked for our concurrence with the following: "It is my interpretation that since the entry permit retention requirements in 29 C.F.R. 1910.146 do not contain a reference to the retention requirements in 29 C.F.R. 1910.1020, the testing results on the entry permit need only be retained for one year."

Regarding the root issue of whether atmospheric sampling or exposure monitoring tests are considered an employee exposure record, OSHA has answered this question in Appendix E (page E-16) of OSHA Instruction CPL 2.100. It reads as follows:

"Are the results of the air sampling and exposure monitoring required by this standard considered exposure records for purposes of 29 C.F.R. 1910.20(c)(5) OSHA's Record Access rule?"

"Those results which show the composition of an atmosphere to which an employee is actually exposed (even if the employee is using a respirator) are exposure records under 29 C.F.R. 1910.20(c)(5). Conversely, if the employer determines as the result of initial air sampling not to allow entry into a confined space until additional ventilation and purging of the atmosphere has occurred, the sample would not be considered as exposure record because no employee would ever have been exposed to the atmosphere sampled. Once the employer takes corrective action so that an employee can enter, however, the results of subsequent air sampling that show the atmosphere the employee actually entered would be considered exposure records."

We do not concur with your interpretation for the above reason.

In redesignating Sec. 1910.20 (Access to employee exposure and medical records) as Sec. 1910.1020 the Agency has simply moved the standard from one subpart to another. We have not changed or modified the standard. Thus, interpretations under the old designation are carried forward to the new designation.

If you have further questions on this letter please contact Mr. Don Kallstrom in the Office of Safety Compliance Assistance (202)219-8031, x-109.


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