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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1975.3; 1910.132; 1910.1030; 1910.1030(d)(3)(iii)

This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any situation not delineated within the original correspondence.

January 29, 2004

Rochelle D. Spiker, MSW, LCSW-C
Executive Director
Potomac Latex Allergy Association
PO Box 52
Greenbelt, MD 20768

Dear Ms. Spiker,

Thank you for your July 27, 2003 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. You letter summarizes several objections and concerns that you had regarding two proposals before ASTM that involved the color-coding of latex gloves and the prohibition on their use by food handlers. Your concern stems from the potential adverse effects from latex by consumers and health care patients with Hevea Natural Rubber Latex Allergy (HNRLA).

While we are familiar with the hazards associated with latex allergy, OSHA rules and regulations do not cover consumers or health care patients, rather employers and employees in occupational settings. In a workplace, an employer is required to assess the potential hazards present, select the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), communicate their selection decisions to employees, and train them on the use, limitations, and care of the equipment. These general requirements for PPE are found at 29 CFR 1910.132.

The use of gloves in food service is intended to maintain a proper level of sanitation to ensure food safety for consumers. The gloves are not chosen to protect the worker from the food, but rather the food from the worker. Gloves selected in the scenarios that you describe in your letter are not for the purpose of worker safety, but rather consumer safety, therefore OSHA requirements would not apply.

OSHA does have specific requirements for glove use under 29 CFR 1910.1030, Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, which applies to workplaces where there is occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Employers covered under this standard must provide and make accessible hypoallergenic gloves, glove liners, powderless gloves, or other similar alternatives to those employees allergic to the type of gloves normally provided [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(3)(iii)]. However, in the situation you are concerned with, this standard would not apply. Additionally, while there are requirements to provide hypoallergenic gloves or other alternatives, there is no requirement for color-coding to facilitate the differentiation of glove types.

If you need further information on these issues, you may wish to contact ASTM, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the U.S. Product Safety Commission.

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 General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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