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• Standard Number: 1910.1030

June 29, 1993

Allen R. Keith,
Safety Director
Wellman, Inc.
Post Office Drawer
188 Highway 41/51 North
Johnsonville, South Carolina 29555-0188

Dear Mr. Keith:

This is in response to your letter received May 25, regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens."

Your company operates recycling centers for governmental entities which have implemented procedures to follow when a sorter sights a hypodermic needle among the recycled material. You asked whether, based on your listing of these procedures, the "infrequent and intermittent presence of needles at an automated material recovery facility constitutes reasonably anticipated occupational exposure."

As your letter documents, the following are the procedures normally utilized when a needle or needles are visually sighted by a manual sorter:

A. The conveyor line is immediately stopped. B. The shift supervisor is notified and assumes responsibility for the removal and disposal of the needle in accordance with procedures agreed upon with the governmental entity.

C. Disposal procedures include requirement for the supervisor to wear protective safety clothing and glasses, and to pick up and place needle in sharps container using tongs.

D. Sharps containers are labeled and handled as biohazard waste.

E. The final disposal of sharps container is contractually the responsibility of the governmental entity.

It appears that these procedures are adequate to prevent exposure incidents to manual sorters, and there does not appear to be reasonable anticipation of contact with blood by these sorters. They therefore would not be considered to have occupational exposure. However, if an exposure incident occurs among the manual sorters, work practices must be analyzed and changed to reduce the exposure potential. Otherwise, contact with blood may be reasonably anticipated, and the manual sorters would be considered to have occupational exposure.

It is the employer's responsibility to evaluate the task being performed and whether employees have occupational exposure. If OSHA determines, on a case-by-case basis, that sufficient evidence exists of reasonably anticipated exposure, the employer will be held responsible for providing the protections of 29 CFR 1910.1030 to the employees with occupational exposure.

Please bear in mind that all shift supervisors who assume responsibility for the removal and disposal of the needles in accordance with the procedures documented in your scenario must be covered by all requirements of the standard, including vaccination after training and within ten days of assignment.

We hope this information has been responsive to your concerns. Thank you for your interest in worker safety and health.

Sincerely,



Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs

Ms. Ellen Roznowski
Occupational Safety
and Health Administration
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.,
Room N3467
Washington, D.C. 20210

RE: Bloodborne Pathogens

Dear Ms. Roznowski,

I appreciate the time you took this past week to discuss with me our problem with the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. In conformance with your request, I will describe our business and the difficulty that we are presently having in properly interpreting the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard.

The essence of our problem centers around what constitutes normal occupational exposure. Below, I will describe our particular situation and request that you provide us with an official interpretation as to level of exposure.

Wellman's subsidiary company, New England CRInc operates Material Recycling Centers for governmental entities. Materials to be recycled are specified by the governmental entity and include post consumer household goods such as paper products, metal, glass and plastics. This partially sorted household refuse is delivered to one of our facilities where it is separated into saleable materials to be recycled, with the residue normally going to landfills. The majority of the sortation occurs through mechanical, gravitational and magnetic means. The last phase of the sortation process is done manually to remove contaminant materials and to separate by color/commodity. Manual sorters are required to wear protective gloves and safety glasses.

On a very infrequent and intermittent basis, hypodermic needles proceed through the automatic sortation process and enter the manual sortation areas. Disposal of needles with household recyclables is a direct violation of governmental regulations and instructions.

The following are the procedures normally utilized when a needle or needles are visually sighted by a manual sorter:

A. The conveyor line is immediately stopped. B. The shift supervisor is notified and assumes responsibility for the removal and disposal of the needle in accordance with procedures agreed upon with the governmental entity.

C. Disposal procedures include requirement for the supervisor to wear protective safety clothing and glasses and to pick up and place needle in sharps container using tongs.

D. Sharps containers are labeled and handled as BIOHAZARD waste.

E. The final disposal of sharps container is contractually the responsibility of the governmental entity.

The above procedures are designed to minimize the exposure to our employees from needles. These steps are supplemented by education of the public concerning materials, such as used hypodermic needles, that are unacceptable within the recyclable stream.

Should there be an unanticipated event resulting in an exposure, the exposed person who had exposure event will be referred to a physician for appropriate treatment and follow up. Additionally, those first aid responders who are expected to offer first aid to injured employees will be included in our company's bloodborne pathogen program. These first aid responders will be offered the Hepatitis B vaccination series, post exposure, as per the recent Federal OSHA ruling of July 6, 1992.

Based on the above scenario, we are hereby requesting that you provide us a ruling as to whether the infrequent and intermittent presence of needles at an automated Material Recovery Facility constitutes "reasonably anticipated occupational exposure", thus requiring pre-exposure offering to all employees of Hepatitis B vaccination series.

Thank you for the time you gave me discussing this matter. Should you need any additional information concerning the potential of exposure of our procedures in handling an exposure incident, please do not hesitate to contact me. We appreciate your consideration of our request and await your ruling based on the above set of circumstances.

Sincerely,



Allen R. Keith
Safety Director


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