- 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 https://www.osha.gov.
July 18, 2003
Dee Woodhull, CIH, CSP
Organization Resources Counselors, Inc.
1910 Sunderland Place, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036-1608
Dear Ms. Woodhull:
Thank you for your December 19, 2002 letter on behalf of a company that is a member of your organization, the Organization Resources Counselors, Inc (ORC). The company has questions about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) policy on using wipe sampling for 4, 4' methylenedianiline (MDA) as the basis for enforcement action. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed, and may not be applicable to any issue not delineated within your original correspondence. Your paraphrased scenario, questions, and our replies are below.
Scenario: The company has an area into which MDA processing equipment is taken for maintenance and repair. Prior to its entry into this area, the equipment is thoroughly cleaned in a regulated area. Any trace of MDA in the area is detectable only through wipe sampling and is brought in on the person(s) entering the area. It is not brought in on the equipment that is to be maintained or repaired.
The company is familiar with the conditions requiring the establishment of a regulated area that are set forth in the MDA standard, 29 CFR 1910.1050. Since the standard does not discuss the use of quantitative wipe sampling for determining when a regulated area is required if a dermal exposure hazard is the basis for establishing the regulated area, the company assumes that quantitative wipe sampling is not used for determining when a regulated area for MDA is required.
Question 1: Has OSHA changed its policy to require wipe sampling for determining if regulated areas have been appropriately established for the MDA dermal exposure risk?
Reply: No. OSHA has not changed its policy. According to the standard at 29 CFR 1910.1050(f)(1)(ii), "Where employees are subject to dermal exposure to MDA the employer shall establish those work areas as regulated areas."
As you mentioned in your letter, according to paragraph (b) of the standard, dermal exposure to MDA occurs, "where employees are engaged in the handling, application or use of mixtures or materials containing MDA, with any of the following non-airborne forms of MDA:
(i) Liquid, powdered, granular, or flaked mixtures containing MDA in concentrations greater than 0.1 percent by weight or volume; and
(ii) Materials other than "finished articles" containing MDA in concentrations greater than 0.1 percent by weight or volume."
Thus, an employer must establish regulated areas whenever employees are "subject to dermal exposure to MDA" as explained by the standard. If you have correctly described the situation in the area where the described maintenance and repair is done, then the employees working in the area are not " subject to dermal exposure to MDA" as explained by the standard, and a regulated area does not have to be established there for that reason.
Question 2: Will OSHA issue citations based on wipe sampling data alone for MDA?
Reply: OSHA could use the results of wipe sampling as supplemental documentation for a violation. To expand hypothetically using your scenario:
- The compliance officer observes that employees working in an MDA-regulated area near the maintenance and repair area could be tracking MDA from the regulated area into maintenance and repair area.
- The compliance officer takes wipe samples from the maintenance and repair area floor to determine if MDA is present, and the wipe samples reveal that MDA is present.
- If the employer was not providing foot coverings for the employees working in the regulated area, the positive wipe sampling results could be used to help support a citation for violation of 29 CFR 1910.1050(i)(1)(ii), which requires employers to provide employees with foot coverings if appropriate.
- If the employer was providing foot coverings for the employees working in the regulated area but the employees were not removing the foot coverings before leaving the regulated area, the positive wipe sampling results could be used to help support a citation for violation of 29 CFR 1910.1050(i)(2)(ii), which requires the employer to ensure that the employees remove their foot coverings before leaving the regulated area.
Question 3: What about the housekeeping provisions?
Reply: Usually OSHA would not need to perform wipe sampling to document a violation of 1910.1050(l)(1), housekeeping. That paragraph specifies, "All surfaces shall be maintained as free as practicable of visible accumulations of MDA."
Sometimes MDA accumulation is due to failure to comply with 1910.1050(l)(2), which requires the employer to "... institute a program for detecting MDA leaks, spills, and discharges, including regular visual inspections of operations involving liquid or solid MDA." The accumulation could also be due to a failure to comply with 1910.1050(l)(3), which specifies that all leaks be "... repaired and liquid or dust spills cleaned up promptly."
Consequently, failing to comply with 1910.1050(l)(2) or (3) can result in a citation for violating 1910.1050(l)(1). However, if visible accumulations of MDA were occurring in spite of compliance with 1910.1050(l)(2) and (3), OSHA would investigate whether the employer was doing everything practicable to prevent it; if OSHA concluded that the employer was not doing everything practicable, OSHA could issue a citation. Whatever the reason for unacceptable visible accumulations of MDA, any wipe sampling done would be for the purpose of documenting that the material involved was indeed MDA.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs