- 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.
January 9, 2007
Major Christopher E. Ansell
Major, U.S. Army
Safety, Radiation Protection, and Environmental Health Office
Department of the Army
U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
1425 Porter Street
Fort Detrick, Maryland 2172-5011
Dear Major Ansell:
Thank you for your April 26, 2006, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). You had specific questions regarding the training requirements of OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question(s) not delineated in your original correspondence. For clarification, your original question has been rephrased below followed by our response.
Scenario: Our facility has contractor employees and civilian federal employees who fall into a number of different categories for training on bloodborne pathogens and other infectious agents. For example, we have employees who: 1) perform duties which do not expose them to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM); 2) perform duties which do expose them to blood or OPIM; and 3) perform duties which expose them to blood or OPIM, as well as other infectious agents and must be provided the training mandated by 32 CFR Part 627, The Biological Defense Safety Program, Technical Safety Requirements (DA Pamphlet 385-69), as well as the CDC-NIH publication, Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL).
Question: Must annual training, as specified by OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030(g), be conducted for those employees who have been provided more stringent training such as that required by both 32 CFR 627 and the BMBL?
Reply: Yes. Section 5(a)(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), 29 USC §654(a)(2), requires private-sector employers, including government contractors, to comply with OSHA standards. Executive Order 12196 requires federal agencies to protect their civilian employees by compliance with OSHA standards. Par. 1-201(d). Under OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard, employers having employees with exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) must train employees annually regardless of the employees' prior training or education. In your letter, you noted that the regulations of 32 CFR 627 and recommendations of the CDC-NIH publication, Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) may contain more stringent training mandates than those of the bloodborne pathogens standard. However, you also noted that neither has a requirement to conduct training annually. The bloodborne pathogens standard requires initial and annual training of employees [29 CFR 1910.1030(g)(2)(ii)]. As stated in OSHA's compliance directive, Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, CPL 02-02-069 [CPL 2-2.69], refresher training need only cover the topics listed in the standard to the extent needed and does not need to be an exact repetition of the previous annual training. Additionally, employers are allowed the flexibility to tailor the training program, for example, to the employee's background and responsibilities. [See par. XIII.G.4.]
You have asked about obtaining an exemption from the annual training requirement of the bloodborne pathogens standard. With respect to the federal civilian employees, the Executive Order does not provide for exemptions. Furthermore, 32 CFR 627.6(a) requires your facility to comply with OSHA requirements. Also, nothing in the OSH Act provides an exemption for the contractor employees in this situation. Although Section 16 of the OSH Act, 29 USC §655, provides for exemptions from the OSH Act when the Secretary of Labor finds that they are necessary and proper to avoid serious impairment of the national defense, this provision would not apply here because annual training under the bloodborne pathogens standard does not in any way impair the national defense.
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