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 28, 1997

[Name withheld]

Dear [Name withheld]

This is in response to your letter of August 2, 1997 concerning the standard for occupational lead exposure in General Industry, 29 CFR 1910.1025, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You are requesting an interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.1025(k)(2)(iv), which discusses the effect of workers' compensation claims on temporary medical removal protection benefits. You also provide an account of instances where your employer, [Name and location withheld], does not comply with the standard. We are providing you with the interpretation you request, but are forwarding your letter to the OSHA Chicago Regional Office to respond to your complaint about the health and safety conditions at [Name withheld].

Title 29 CFR 1910.1025(k)(2)(iv) reads,


If a removed employee files a claim for workers' compensation payments for a lead-related disability, then the employer shall continue to provide medical removal protection benefits pending disposition of the claim. To the extent that an award is made to the employee for earnings lost during the period of removal, the employer's medical removal protection obligation shall be reduced by such amount. The employer shall receive no credit for workers' compensation payments received by the employee for treatment related expenses.

We understand that you are requesting an interpretation as to whether the provision extends temporary medical removal protection benefits beyond 18 months in cases where disposition of the removed employee's workers' compensation claim has not occurred within 18 months. The provision does not extend temporary medical removal protection benefits beyond 18 months. The purpose of the provision is to prohibit employers from terminating the medical removal protection benefits in less than 18 months just on the grounds that the employee has filed a claim for workers' compensation payments for a lead-related disability. It also permits the employer to reduce the medical removal protection benefit payment by an amount equal to any worker's compensation payment for earnings lost the worker should receive.

In your case, if (1) a final medical determination has been made that you are incapable of ever safely returning to your former job status, and (2) you have been removed from your job for at least 18 months, then the standard permits your employer to terminate your medical removal protection benefits payments. The medical removal protection benefits provisions were not included in the Lead Standard to supplement existing workers' compensation claim programs as workers' compensation does not come under the purview of OSHA, but rather, comes under the purview of the individual States. The provisions were included in the standard to encourage employees to participate in the medical surveillance program which is intended to assist in the prevention of occupational disease related to lead exposure.

We are concerned about any occupational illness you may have incurred and hope your health improves. If you have further questions please contact the Office of Health Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-8036.


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