Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|
| Standard Number:||1910.1030(b)|
January 29, 2007
Ms. Sara C. Heineman, R.N. Public Health Nurse
Missoula City County Health Department
301 West Alder
Missoula, Montana 59802
Dear Ms. Heineman:
Thank you for your March 20, 2006, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 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. For clarification, your specific question is paraphrased below, followed by OSHA's response.
Question: In the clinic where I currently work, the policy is to dispose of pregnancy tests and urine collection cups into biohazard red bags (urine is disposed in the toilet first). This differs from the policy in my former workplace, which was to dispose of urine collection cups into the regular garbage unless they were contaminated with blood. Which procedure is correct? Should pregnancy tests and urine collection cups be disposed of in biohazard-red bags or can they be discarded in the regular garbage.
Reply: The OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard defines "regulated waste" as "liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious materials; contaminated items that would release blood or other potentially infectious materials in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed; items that are caked with dried blood or other potentially infectious materials and are capable of releasing these materials during handling; contaminated sharps; and pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or other potentially infectious materials." [29 CFR 1910.1030(b)]. Urine that does not contain visible blood is not regarded, under the standard, as blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM). Therefore, absent the patient having a medical condition that would lead to blood in the urine, containers used to collect urine would not meet the standard's definition of "regulated waste." Urine containers and pregnancy tests that do not contain visible blood would not be required to be discarded in biohazard-red labeled containers under OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard.
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 Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Richard E. Fairfax
Directorate of Enforcement Programs
|Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|