Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|
| Standard Number:||1910.1030; 1910.1030(g)(2)(vii)(N); 1910.1030(g)(2)(viii)|
June 26, 2003
Mr. John Mateus
Less Stress Instructional Services
138 Buena Vista Avenue
Hawthorne, NJ 07506
Dear Mr. Mateus:
Thank you for your April 15, 2003 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the requirements for employee training under OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030). Your questions are restated below followed by OSHA's response. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence.
Scenario: An employer chooses to implement non-classroom employee training programs, such as workbook or on-line programs for employees with reasonably anticipated exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). With this in mind, please answer the following questions.
Question 1: If questions are answered in a timely fashion (say in 24 business hours), could the question system be automated via email?
The training requirements established under 29 CFR 1910.1030(g)(2)(vii)(N) require an employer to allow for an opportunity for interactive questions and answers with the person conducting the training session. Employees must be trained initially prior to being placed in positions where occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) may occur. Because of the critical importance of information regarding occupational exposure to potentially life-threatening bloodborne pathogens, it is critical that employees have the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers regarding material, which during training may be unfamiliar to them.
In OSHA Instruction [CPL 02-02-069 (formerly CPL 2-2.69)] Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens (XIII.G.8), the requirement for "interactive" questions and answers has been interpreted to mean that employees must have direct access to a qualified trainer during the training session. The use of an electronic mail system to answer employee questions would not be considered direct access to a qualified trainer, unless the trainer is available to answer e-mailed questions at the time the questions arise. Frequently, a student may be unable to go further with the training or to understand related training content until a response is received. Failure to provide employees direct access to a qualified trainer would constitute a violation of this paragraph of the standard.
Question 2: If a student sends an e-mail question as part of his training program and receives an answer 16 hours after completion of the on-line training, is the student officially trained as of the completion of the session or as of receipt of the answer to the question?
Again, unless e-mailed questions are answered at the time that they are asked, we would not consider the student to be properly trained. This would constitute a violation of 1910.1030(g)(2)(vii)(N).
Question 3: As a supplement to Question 2, would referral to the site's exposure control coordinator be an acceptable means of satisfying the opportunity for interactive questions and answers with the person conducting the training session?
Employees must have direct access to a qualified trainer. A referral system does not qualify as direct access, unless the exposure control coordinator is immediately available and is a knowledgeable trainer within the meaning of 29 CFR 1910.1030(g)(2)(viii).
Question 4: If presented with the two above options and no emailed/verbal questions are received by the employer, can the need for "an opportunity for interactive questions and answers" with the person conducting the training session be considered satisfied?
No. A qualified trainer must be immediately available to employees regardless of whether questions are actually asked by the employees at the time of their initial and annual training.
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 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
Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|