Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.1001(i)(4); 1926.1101(j)(4)


OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particularcircumstances, 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 4, 1990

Mr. C. R. Sledge
Asbestos Consultant
3613 Deerfield Drive
Suffolk, Virginia 23435

Dear Mr. Sledge:

This is in response to your letter of July 30, requesting guidance concerning the intent of the new regulations on smoking and occupational exposure to asbestos. The regulations in question are 29 CFR 1910.1001(i)(4) and [29 CFR 1926.1101(j)(4)]. Your questions are as follows:

Question 1. An employer has a large facility comprised of numerous buildings. One of the buildings, away from the rest, does not contain any asbestos containing materials. There are no known asbestos operations in progress in the vicinity of the building and the source of the asbestos is unknown. Air samples taken inside the building show that the eight hour TWA is 0.005 fibers per cubic centimeter of air. Should the employees in this building be prohibited from smoking?

Answer: 1910.1001(i)(4) and [1926.1101(j)(4)] both state that the employer shall ensure that employees do not smoke in work areas where they are occupationally exposed to asbestos because of activities in that work area. "Occupational exposure" means asbestos exposure which has its source in the workplace. In the example you described, if the source of the asbestos cannot be attributed to the workplace, the provisions to ban smoking do not apply. If the fiber levels can be attributed to cross contamination from other buildings, then employees shall be prohibited from smoking.

Question 2. An employer has a large facility comprised of numerous buildings. One of the buildings, away from the rest, does not contain any asbestos containing materials. There are no known asbestos operations in progress in the vicinity of the building and the source of the asbestos is unknown. Air samplestaken inside the building show that eight hour TWA is 0.001 fibers per cubic centimeter of air. Should the employees in this building be prohibited from smoking?

Answer: Your question 2 is similar to question 1; therefore, our answer is the same as the above.

Question 3. An employer's operation consist of one office building that does not contain any asbestos containing materials. The building is located in an urban setting and there are no known asbestos operations or materials anywhere close by. Air sample data shows that the eight hour TWA is 0.005 fibers per cubic centimeter of air. Are employees in the building considered occupationally exposed to asbestos and therefore prohibited from smoking?

Answer: If the source of asbestos is non-existent in the workplace, the provisions banning smoking do not apply. Employees would not be considered occupationally exposed to asbestos and therefore not be prohibited from smoking.

Question 4. Is there a level below which employees are not considered to be occupationally exposed to asbestos?

Answer: There is no specified level. The emphasis is on the source of asbestos exposure and not the airborne levels. If the source is in the workplace, employees are considered to be occupationally exposed, regardless of what the levels are.

Question 5. Can you describe any condition in which there is some level of asbestos in the air, however low, and employees are not considered to be occupationally exposed and therefore are permitted to smoke?

Answer: When there is no source of asbestos exposure in the workplace, i.e. no asbestos-containing materials in the building, no asbestos-related operations nearby, no cross-contamination from other buildings near the worksite, employees would not be considered occupationally exposed.

Please note that the emphasis of these provisions is to educate the workers on the synergistic relationship between smoking and asbestos exposure in developing lung cancer. The Agency has determined that the risk for smoking workers exposed to asbestos is substantially higher than nonsmoking ones. By implementing these smoking ban provisions, the Agency believes that even a reduction in workplace smoking will reduce risk to smoking employees by a significant amount.

If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Sincerely,


Patricia K. Clark, Director Designate
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]

[Correction 6/2/2005]



July 30, 1990

Patricia K. Clark
Director Designate
Directorate of Compliance Programs
Occupational Safety
and Health Administration
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Ms. Clark:

I have received your reply to my letter requesting guidance concerning the intent of the new regulations on smoking and occupational exposure to asbestos. The regulations in question are 29 CFR 1910.1001(i)(4) and [29 CFR 1926.1101(j)(4)]. After carefully considering your response I feel that I need the answer to a few more questions in order to fully understand your position. The additional questions are:

  1. An employer has a large facility comprised of numerous buildings. One of the buildings, away from the rest, does not contain any asbestos containing materials. There are no known asbestos operations in progress in the vicinity of the building and the source of the asbestos is unknown. Air samples taken inside the building show that the eight hour TWA is 0.005 fibers per cubic centimeter of air. Should the employees in this building be prohibited from smoking?

  2. An employer has a large facility comprised of numerous buildings. One of the buildings, away from the rest, does not contain any asbestos containing materials. There are no known asbestos operations in progress in the vicinity of the building and the source of the asbestos is unknown. Air samples taken inside the building show that the eight hour TWA is 0.001 fibers per cubic centimeter of air. Should the employees in this building be prohibited from smoking?

  3. An employer's operation consist of one office building that does not contain any asbestos containing materials. The building is located in an urban setting and there are no known asbestos operations or materials anywhere close by. Air sample data shows that the eight hour TWA is 0.005 fibers per cubic centimeter of air. Are employees in the building considered occupationally exposed to asbestos and therefore prohibited from smoking?

  4. Is there a level below which employees are not considered to be occupationally exposed to asbestos?

  5. Can you describe any condition in which there is some level of asbestos in the air, however low, and employees are not considered to be occupationally exposed and therefore are permitted to smoke?

Your assistance in providing additional clarification is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,


C. R. Sledge, Jr.


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents