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.
May 16, 1997
Mr. Darrel Giraud
Kem Medical Products Corporation
1239 Newport Center Drive East, Suite 108
Deerfield Beach, Florida 33442
Dear Mr. Giraud:
This is in response to your letter of April 2, regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) enforcement policy to protect workers against glutaraldehyde exposure, since OSHA does not have a standard for this substance.
You ask if OSHA can issue an employer a citation under the "general duty clause" of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act) for exposing an employee to an airborne glutaraldehyde concentration higher than the ceiling level of 0.20 parts per million (ppm) established by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Since OSHA has no standard for airborne glutaraldehyde, OSHA can invoke the general duty clause to regulate the employee exposure to it, but the citation would not be based just on the fact that the exposure exceeded the ACGIH ceiling level. The citation would have to be based on evidence that the exposure was sufficiently high to likely cause death or serious physical harm.
You also asked if employee exposure monitoring is the only practical way to ensure that employees are not over=exposed to glutaraldehyde. In some cases employee exposure monitoring would be the only practical way to ensure that employees are not over-exposed, but we cannot say that this would be so for all cases.
We appreciate the opportunity to provide you with this information. If you have further questions, please contact the [Office of Health Enforcement at 202 693-2190].
John B. Miles, Jr., Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]
April 2, 1997
Mr. Richard Fairfax
[OSHA Directorate of Enforcement Programs]
200 Constitution Avenue NW.
Washington, DC 20210
Dear Mr. Fairfax:
This letter is in response to a letter I received from a local OSHA office recently originated from Mr. John B. Miles of OSHA dated February 27, 1996, which reveals your name and phone number for assistance. I have two questions with regards to Glutaraldehyde.
My first question is:
Even though Glutaraldehyde is no longer listed under the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1000 Air Contaminants Ceiling Table, can OSHA issue citations to a facility under the OSHA General Duty Clause if an employee is exposed to a level of Glutaraldehyde higher than the ACGIH Ceiling Level of 0.20 ppm?
My second question is:
Even though OSHA does not require specific employee exposure monitoring to Glutaraldehyde vapors, is employee exposure monitoring the only practical way for an employer to ensure a safe or below 0.20 ppm Glutaraldehyde level for their employees before a potential over-exposure takes place?
Please respond to the above mentioned questions in writing as soon as you can. Your assistance and cooperation is greatly appreciated.