- 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 25, 1999
Mr. Mark E. Thorsland
Associate Industrial Hygienist
State of New York, Department of Labor
Division of Safety and Health
State Office Building Campus
Albany, NY 12240
Dear Mr. Thorsland:
We received your letter dated December 21, 1998, addressed to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) [Office of Health Enforcement (OHE)], regarding the inclusion of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) under 29 CFR 1910.1030, Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens. Thank you for your inquiry. Your concern was whether HCV is included as a specific bloodborne pathogen included in (f)(3), which addresses Hepatitis B vaccination (HBV) and post-exposure evaluation and follow-up procedures. Your questions are restated below, followed by OSHA's response.
- (Can) 'HCV' just be substituted for 'HBV' and 'HIV' in the wording of the citations (section (f)(3))?
- Could you please forward to us the correct policy regarding citing HCV violations under 29 CFR 1910.1030?
A number of resources are available to you that outline the definitions of bloodborne pathogens which are included in 29 CFR 1910.1030. The preamble published in the Federal Register, Vol. 58, No. 235, December 6, 1991, defines bloodborne pathogens to include "HBV, HIV, and other pathogens including hepatitis C, malaria, syphilis, babesiosis, brucellosis, leptospirosis, arboviral infections, relapsing fever, Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease, Human T-lymphotrophic virus Type I, and Viral Hemorrhagic Fever." The preamble is quoted as stating, "HBV and HIV are given as examples because they are the viruses of greatest interest and present the greatest risk. Adding additional examples to the definition would not improve the definition."
OSHA Instruction [CPL 2-2.69, Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens], states "while HBV and HIV are specifically identified in the standard, the term includes any pathogenic microorganism that is present in human blood and can infect and cause disease in persons who are exposed to blood containing the pathogen. Other examples include hepatitis C, malaria, syphilis, babesiosis, brucellosis, leptospirosis, arboviral infections, relapsing fever, Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease, Human T-lymphotrophic Virus Type 1, and viral hemorrhagic fever."
Additionally, the preamble to the standard discusses the health effects of hepatitis viruses and covers the transmission and infectious nature of the hepatitis viruses, specifically hepatitis C. It addresses the fact that "parenterally transmitted non-A, non-B hepatitis is caused by at least one bloodborne virus, designated hepatitis C virus (HCV)." This is an example of and further indication that, in addition to HBV and HIV, "other bloodborne diseases, hepatitis C, delta hepatitis, syphilis, and malaria" are included in the discussion of this standard and its potential hazard in the workplace. We hope that we have given you several examples of the inclusion of HCV, as an example of a bloodborne pathogen in the standard.
With regards to your second inquiry, OSHA Instruction [CPL 2-2.69] outlines inspection and citation guidelines. Generally,citations shall be issued if work practice controls, engineering controls and personal protective equipment are not used to eliminate or minimize employee exposure to bloodborne pathogens. For post-exposure evaluation and follow-up as required in paragraph (f)(3), a citation shall be issued if a compliance officer determines that an employer did not make immediately available a confidential medical evaluation and follow-up after an exposure incident. At sites where an exposure incident has occurred, it should be determined if the procedures were properly followed through interviews, incident report review, and, if necessary, medical record reviews. Furthermore, if a compliance officer believes that an employer is not properly following accepted post-exposure procedures, or needs specific information about current accepted procedures, the Regional bloodborne pathogens coordinator should be contacted. These details and many other concerning compliance to this standard are available for your perusal in either the original standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030, and/or OSHA Instruction [CPL 2-2.69]. You may obtain both of these resources as well as other material which are abundantly available on our OSHA's internet website, the address is http://www.osha.gov.
However, not all provisions of the bloodborne pathogens standard apply to hepatitis C.
We hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call OSHA's [Office of Health Enforcement] at (202) 693-2190.
Richard E. Fairfax
Directorate of Compliance Programs