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.

August 20, 1997

Mr. William H. George
Industrial Hygiene Manager
Target Environmental Department
33 South Sixth Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402

Dear Mr. George:

This is in response to your letter of May 1, as well as to similar letters you have written to several Regional Offices of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), concerning asbestos surveying and sampling associated with the remodeling, renovation, and demolition of buildings.

You requested OSHA's point on the presence of asbestos in buildings constructed after 1980. OSHA has concluded that asbestos-containing thermal system insulation (TSI) and asbestos-containing surfacing material (SM) are not prevalent enough in buildings constructed after 1980 to require building owners to presume that the materials are asbestos-containing. However, asbestos may still be present in some of these buildings. Accordingly, building owners must exercise due diligence in regard to identifying the presence of asbestos in thermal system insulation, surfacing material, vinyl flooring material, ceiling tile, joint compound, and other materials installed in buildings constructed after 1980.

You stated that you would like assurance that your company can rely on records, not sampling, for evaluating the buildings constructed after 1980 for the presence of installed asbestos containing material prior to renovation or demolition. OSHA cannot offer you reassurance that you can always rely on records for evaluating the buildings constructed after 1980 for the presence of asbestos. On some occasions, the records may be accurate and complete and you may rely on them, while in other occasions, the records may be inaccurate and incomplete and you may not rely on them. As indicated above, your company must exercise due diligence in regard to identifying asbestos-containing material installed in buildings. If the records are not reliable and there is good cause to believe that a given material may contain asbestos, your company must treat the material as if it contains asbestos, or show by laboratory analysis, that asbestos is not present.

We appreciate the opportunity to clarify this matter for you. If you have further questions, please contact the [O]ffice of Health Compliance Assistance in this Directorate at (202) 219-8036.


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