Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

April 22, 1998

The Honorable Richard Lugar
1180 Market Tower
10 West Market Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2964

Dear Senator Lugar:

This is in response to your letter of March 2, 1998, requesting a clarification of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) policy on eating or drinking in a pharmacy.

The letter from your constituents which was included with your request stated that they are currently employed at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center pharmacy in Indianapolis, and had been told by their supervisor that OSHA prohibited eating and drinking in areas where medications are handled.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have a standard which specifically bans eating and drinking in a pharmacy. In 29 CFR 1910.141(g), OSHA does, however, prohibit eating and drinking in a toilet room or any area exposed to toxic materials. Many pharmaceutical products may be or may contain toxic materials. Powder from broken pills or powdered and liquid drugs handled in a mixing area could potentially contaminate food. We also maintain this safe work practice in Guidelines for Cytotoxic Drugs (OSHA Instruction PUB 8-1.1, copy enclosed), which states that smoking, drinking, applying cosmetics and eating where cytotoxic drugs are prepared, stored, or used should never take place, as these practices greatly increase the chances of worker exposure.

I hope this has been responsive to your concerns. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-8036.


Charles N. Jeffress
Assistant Secretary