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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 2, 2008
Mr. Daren George
17022 East B Street
Spanaway, Washington 99387
Dear Mr. George:
Thank you for your October 19, 2007 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP) regarding the applicability of OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard to the containment and disposal of electric razors in correctional facilities and health care settings. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. We apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry.
OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard has provisions for the protection of employees during the containment, storage and transport of contaminated sharps and other regulated waste [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iii)(A)-1910.1030(d)(4)(iii)(B)]. In general, sharps containers used for discarding disposable razors used for shaving in nursing homes, healthcare or correctional facilities must be: (i) Closable; (ii) Puncture resistant; (iii) Leakproof on sides and bottom; and, (iv) Labeled or color-coded in accordance with paragraph (g)(1)(i). It is also required that designated sharps containers be: Replaced routinely and not be allowed to overfill [1910.1030(d)(4)(iii)(A)(2)(iii)]. OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard states: Disposal of all regulated waste shall be in accordance with applicable regulations of the United States, States and Territories, and political subdivisions of States and Territories [CFR 29 1910.1030(d)(4)(iii)(C)]. Thus, healthcare settings, nursing care, and correctional facilities must comply with any of these state regulations that describe specific policies regarding the final disposition of used razors. This issue has been previously addressed by OSHA in a letter of interpretation (Mr. Frank A. White, March 28, 2005). A copy of the letter is enclosed for your information.
However, electric shavers are generally not considered disposable and usually are less likely to create a potential for cuts/lacerations that lead to them becoming contaminated. The containment requirements of the bloodborne pathogens standard applies to "contaminated" sharps and would be applicable to electric shavers only if they become contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).
As you may know, Washington is one of the states that operate an OSHA-approved State Plan. Washington's occupational safety and health program is administered through the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. State Plans are responsible for adopting and enforcing occupational safety and health standards that are at least as effective as those promulgated by Federal OSHA. For information on any specific state law concerning disposal of electric razors used in healthcare or correctional facilities, we suggest you contact the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the Washington Department of Labor and Industries at:
Steve Cant, Assistant Director
Washington Department of Labor and Industries
PO Box 44600
Olympia, Washington 98504-4600
Telephone: (360) 902-5495
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 may consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the OSHA Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs