- 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.
January 17, 2008
Ms. Mary Ellen Reda
U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
710 Locust Street, Suite 600
Knoxville, TN 37902-2437
Dear Ms. Reda:
Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter was forwarded to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP) for a response. You requested clarification on the requirements for training under OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence. For clarification, your specific questions are paraphrased below, followed by OSHA's response.
Question 1: Does 1910.1030(g)(2)(viii) require that the person conducting bloodborne pathogens training be a health care professional?
Response 1: No. The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030, does not specify a particular job classification for qualified trainers. 29 CFR 1910.1030(g)(2)(viii) does however require that the trainer be: knowledgeable in the subject matter covered by the elements contained in the training program. . . In OSHA's bloodborne pathogens compliance directive (OSHA Instruction CPL 02-02-069), we state: [p]ossible trainers include a variety of healthcare professionals such as infection control practitioners, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, occupational health professionals, physician's assistants, and emergency medical technicians. Non-healthcare professionals, such as but not limited to, industrial hygienists, epidemiologists, or professional trainers, may conduct the training provided they are knowledgeable in the subject matter covered by the elements contained in the training program as it relates to the workplace. One way, but not the only way, knowledge can be demonstrated is the fact that the person received specialized training.
Question 2: Does this trainer need to physically be in the classroom or is it acceptable for the trainer to be contacted via phone, e-mail, etc. to answer any questions the students have during internet (electronic) training classes?
Response 2: The standard does not specify that the trainer be "physically" in the classroom while training is being conducted. The training requirements established under 29 CFR 1910.1030(g)(2)(vii)(N) require an employer to allow for an opportunity for interactive questions and answers with the person conducting the training session. Employers use a variety of methods to meet the intent of the standard. As an example, training conducted by compressed digital video (CDV) where the trainer is in one location but is in direct communication with the trainees would provide for an interactive exchange and is an acceptable method for meeting the requirements of the standard. Additionally, OSHA has previously stated that an employer can meet OSHA's requirement for trainees to have direct access to a qualified trainer by providing a telephone hotline. The trainer must be accessible to employees during the time of training. It is important to note, too, that employees must be trained initially prior to being placed in positions where occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) may occur.
During a phone conversation with one of our staff members, you clarified that at your workplace, there may be circumstances where an employee is completing the electronic training session at a time when the designated trainer is not readily accessible and the protocol is for the employee to leave a phone message and wait for a response. You mentioned that staff members working on evening shifts or weekends when the healthcare professional or designated trainer is not on duty would therefore not have the opportunity for interactive discussion with the trainer during the training session. This training scenario would not meet the intent of the standard and would constitute a violation of 1910.1030(g)(2)(vii)(N). Employees must have direct access to a qualified trainer at the time the training is being conducted. For your information, we have enclosed two previously written letters of interpretation where OSHA addressed questions similar to those raised in your inquiry. [Please see letters to Mr. John Mateus, dated June 26, 2003 and; Ms. Nancy Wicklin, RN, MS, dated January 15, 1999.]
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