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.

April 24, 1997

[Name Withheld]

Dear [Name Withheld];

This is in response to your February 1, letter sent to President Clinton expressing concern over the quality of care given to patients by some dentist. You also mentioned that some dentists are not complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards to protect their workers. Your letter was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and then forwarded to OSHA for a response.

Many of the items you raise in your letter are not under the jurisdiction of OSHA. Concerning the quality of care given to patients, you may want to contact the state licensing board in Illinois that issues licenses to dentists and describe to them your concerns. Working to increase the overall quality of work preformed in a profession is an admiral goal but certainly not an easy task.

In your letter you indicate you have taken many OSHA seminars and that you are a stickler for following the rules. You then go on to suggest that OSHA should be able to make a random inspections in dental offices at any time and not just in response to worker complaints. The restriction you are describing stems from an annual rider on the OSHA's appropriations from Congress. The rider does not allow OSHA to make programmed inspections in establishments with less than 10 employees and whose lost workday case rate is less than the industry average according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. In your case, OSHA can only make inspections in dental offices when a current employee files a work related complaint. If you want to learn more about filling a complaint, please contact the following Area Office:

U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
1600 167th Street, Suite 12
Calumet City, IL 60409
Telephone: (708) 981-3800

Thank you for your concern about occupational safety and health.


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

March 25, 1997

Ms. Ruth D. Green
Correspondence Control
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Ms. Green:

Enclosed is correspondence to President Clinton from (Name Withheld) of Crete, Illinois, regarding her health concerns about working in the dental field.

This correspondence was referred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for response; however, upon review of (Name Withheld) concerns, we believe that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could best respond to the issues addressed in her letter.

Thank you for your assistance.


Thena M. Durham
Director Executive Secretary