- 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.
December 13, 2011
Mr. William Linn
108 N. Daleville #511
Daleville, AL 36322
Dear Mr. Linn:
Thank you for your letter, postmarked March 16, 2011, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter has been referred to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs for a response to your question regarding OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030 (BBP Standard). You asked how to write an exposure control plan (ECP) when an employer has multiple workplaces or facilities. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements herein, and may not be applicable to any situation not delineated within your original correspondence. Your paraphrased questions are below, followed by our responses.
Question 1: May an employer with multiple facilities establish a single written ECP, or does the employer need a separate written ECP for each facility?
Response: According to paragraph 1910.1030(c)(1)(i) of OSHA's BBP standard, each employer must "establish a written Exposure Control Plan designed to eliminate or minimize employee exposure." While the standard does not specifically address employers with multiple facilities, OSHA interprets this paragraph to mean that an employer with multiple facilities must have a written ECP for each facility or workplace. OSHA bases this interpretation on the preamble to the BBP final rule, 56 Fed. Reg. 64004, 64108 (December 6, 1991), which states:
The reasons for having a written Plan are threefold. First, because exposure control must be practiced by everyone - employee and employer - it is imperative that employees be able to find out what provisions are in place in his or her workplace. According to testimony from NIOSH, having the Plan in writing ...would serve as an on-site adjunct to the overall infection control plan, would reinforce educational programs, and should be used in mandated training programs. (NIOSH, 9/14/89, TR, III-27 & 28). [Emphasis added]
In addition to the exposure determination, the Plan must include an explanation of when and how the employer will implement the other provisions of the standard in a manner appropriate to the circumstances in the employer's workplace. [Emphasis added]
Also, in its guidance for Compliance Officers, Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, CPL 02-02-069 (2001), OSHA notes in paragraph XII C.1 that "...The Compliance Officer should review the facility's written exposure control plan...The location of the plan may be adapted to the circumstances of a particular workplace..." [Emphasis added]
Question 2: Is an ECP required for each department within a facility?
Response: No. The BBP standard at 29 CFR 1910.1030(c)(1)(ii) requires an exposure determination. Additionally, according to paragraphs 1910.1030(c)(2)(i)(A)-(C), the exposure determination must list those job classifications, tasks, and procedures or groups of closely related tasks and procedures that are specifically associated with occupational exposure. Thus, a facility's ECP must address each of its departments where occupational exposures may occur.
Question 3: Would the ECP requirement be different if the facility was a hospital, Federal prison, state prison, or military prison?
Response: Please be aware that Federal OSHA's coverage is not the same for all of your example workplaces so we will address each of your examples individually.
State Prisons: Federal OSHA does not cover state or local government-operated prisons. Section 3(5) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the Act), 29 U.S.C. 652(5), defines an "employer" as "...a person engaged in a business affecting commerce who has employees, but does not include ... any State or political subdivision of a state." Thus, the OSH Act does not cover prisons operated by a state or local government.
Federal Prisons: Both Section 19 of the Act and Executive Order (EO) 12196, Occupational Safety and Health programs for Federal employees, (February 26, 1980), and 29 CFR 1960, Basic Program Elements for Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health Programs and Related Matters, require Federal Executive Branch agencies (not including the U.S. Postal Service) to comply with OSHA standards. Because the Federal Bureau of Prisons is part of the Department of Justice, an Executive Branch agency, Federal prisons must comply with OSHA standards, including the BBP standard, wherever applicable. A Federal prison facility's ECP must address each of its departments where occupational exposure may occur.
Military Prisons: Both EO 12196 and 29 CFR 1960, Basic Program Elements for Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health Programs and Related Matters, exempt "military personnel and uniquely military equipment, systems, and operations" (e.g., military guards) from the requirement to comply with OSHA standards, including the BBP standard. However, Federal civilian personnel working in military prisons would not be exempt from coverage.
Hospitals: Private - sector hospitals must comply with OSHA standards, including the BBP standard. The hospital's ECP must address each of its departments where occupational exposures may occur.
With regard to public employees, you should also be aware that 27 states administer their own OSHA-approved occupational safety and health programs, commonly referred to as state plans. All state plans are required to cover state and local government employees, including workers at state, county and municipal hospitals and prisons. These state plans must adopt and enforce standards which are at least as effective as those promulgated by Federal OSHA. State, county and municipal hospitals and prisons in state plan states must comply with the state's comparable bloodborne pathogens standard. The State of Alabama does not operate an OSHA-approved state plan. For more information on state plans, see http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html.
State and local hospitals in the states without OSHA state plans must also comply with the BBP standard. The Centers for Medicare & Medcaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services enforces this requirement. 42 U.S.C. 1395cc(a)(1)(V).
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 continue to consult OSHA's website at www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at 202-693-2190.
Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs