- Standard Number:
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 http://www.osha.gov.
March 5, 1999
Mr. John Edwards
Aviation Safety Advisory Services
31 Woolley Street
Essendon Victoria 3040
Dear Mr. Edwards:
Thank you for your letter of February 4, 1999, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concerning the working conditions of crew members in the airline industry. You are concerned that crew members are being infected by multi drug-resistant tuberculosis in aircraft cabins on long haul flights. Unfortunately, OSHA is precluded from conducting enforcement activity relative to the working conditions of members of an aircraft's crew.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) charges OSHA with the responsibility to "...assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions...." However, in order to avoid duplication of effort, section 4(b)1 of the OSHA Act provides "[n]othing in this Act shall apply ... with respect to which other Federal agencies...exercise statutory authority to prescribe or enforce standards or regulations affecting occupational safety and health." In other words, OSHA is preempted from enforcing its regulations if a working condition is regulated by another agency of the Federal government.
The Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the statutory authority to issue regulations concerning safety and health issues in the airline industry. In 1975, the FAA issued a Policy Statement wherein they asserted jurisdiction over all aspects of safety and health in the cabin of an airplane vis-a-vis crew members. Pilots, flight engineers, cabin attendants and other persons whose workplace is on aircraft in operation are considered to be crew members. The Policy Statement states, in part, "...the overall FAA regulatory program, outlined in part above, fully occupies and exhausts the field of aircraft crewmember occupational safety and health." Because FAA has exercised its statutory authority over the working conditions of crew members, OSHA is preempted from exercising its jurisdiction over those working conditions. I have enclosed a copy of the Policy Statement for your review.
I appreciate you bringing the concerns of your constituent to my attention. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Directorate of Compliance Programs