- 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.
September 16, 2008
Mr. Michael Shaw
Executive Vice President
East Coast/Government Affairs Office
11654 Plaza America Drive #632
Reston, Virginia 20190-4700
Dear Mr. Shaw:
Thank you for your July 29, 2008 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any scenarios or questions not delineated within your original inquiry. Your question is restated below followed by OSHA's responses.
Scenario: Ethylene oxide (EtO) monitoring is a key service which your company offers for sterile processing departments (SPDs) in hospitals. In addition to the use of EtO sterilizers, healthcare facilities often use the STERRAD 100 commercial sterilization process which uses hydrogen peroxide and low-temperature plasma. One of your competitors offers hydrogen-peroxide monitoring services and is currently marketing this service to hospitals as a measure that should be taken to protect employees. Your company feels that hydrogen peroxide monitoring is unnecessary and will dilute needed compliance activities.
Question: Can OSHA weigh in on a company's errant recommendations to perform hydrogen peroxide air monitoring?
Reply: OSHA's mission is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women. As you may know, 29 CFR 1910.1000 sets a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 1 part per million (ppm) as an 8-hr Time Weighted Average (TWA) for hydrogen peroxide. Employers having employees exposed to hydrogen peroxide must ensure that this level is not exceeded. Monitoring to assess the workplace is one way of achieving this objective. An employer is at liberty to perform additional monitoring as a safeguard in case existing engineering and other control measures fail to perform as expected, even after initial workplace evaluation determines that the OSHA PEL was not being exceeded.
Please be aware that each state is entitled to adopt its own OSHA-approved occupational safety and health plan that must be at least as effective as that of Federal OSHA.
Virginia has adopted such a program. As one of the states with its own OSHA-approved occupational safety and health plan, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry's Occupational Safety and Health Program (VOSH) must adopt standards identical to, or at least as effective as, the federal standards. As such, VOSH could adopt a more stringent interpretation than that of Federal OSHA. You may contact VOSH at the following address:
Virginia Occupational Safety and Health
Attn.: Glenn Cox, Director
13 South 13th Street
Richmond, VA 23219
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 OSHA rules. 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