- 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 10, 2014
Jeffery D. Gilliard, President
Spineboard Decontamination Corporation, Inc.
26 Park Avenue
Rockledge, FL 32955
Dear Mr. Gilliard:
Thank you for your November 4, 2013, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter was referred to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs for a reply. You requested a revision of OSHA's Bloodbome Pathogens (BBP) standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not specifically delineated within your original correspondence. For clarification, your specific question is paraphrased below, followed by OSHA's response.
Background: Spineboard Decontamination Corporation, Inc., manufactures an enclosed spineboard decontamination device to prevent occupational exposure, i.e., reasonably anti cipated contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). Your assertion is that the use of the spineboard decontamination unit will prevent occupational exposure from the splashing, spraying, spattering, and generation of droplets during manual decontamination procedures.
Question: Can the wording of 1910.1030(d)(2)(xi) be modified to mandate the use of a self-contained device/machine, if commercially available, to prevent any splashing, spraying, spattering, etc. during decontamination procedures?
Response: The preamble to the BBP standard states: "Specifying particular disinfectants and procedures in the final rule may have the effect oflimiting the use of new products and of discouraging the development of new information relative to adequate decontamination." [56 FR 64004, 64139 (12/6/ 1991)]
The BBP standard is a performance-based standard, and as such, is designed to permit flexibility for employers to most effectively address employee exposures. This flexibility can accommodate change, incorporate unique situations, and fit the culture of individual workplaces. By not precisely defining all the means of compliance with the BBP standard, OSHA empowers employers to apply procedures and develop innovative approaches to address employee exposures in their unique workplaces. The standard's performance-based approach allows for companies like yours to engineer and develop devices designed to reduce hazards and protect workers from potential exposures to bloodbome pathogens. OSHA commends your efforts to that end.
OSHA does not endorse or approve particular products or processes. Nonetheless, the Spineboard Decontamination Unit does appear to prevent potential employee exposures to blood and OPIM during spineboard decontamination procedures. It is important to note that while your spineboard decontamination unit may prevent potential exposures to employees assigned to decontaminate soiled spineboards, a potential exposure remains during the handling of spineboards that came into contact with blood or OPIM.
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 letter of interpretation explains these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constih1tes 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.
Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs