Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|
| Standard Number:||1910.1001|
March 19, 2009
Dear Mr. Mistichelli:
Your letter was received March 11, 2009, by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and was forwarded for reply by our Directorate of Enforcement Programs. You have suggested that OSHA consider revising the annual training requirements of the general industry Asbestos standard, 29 CFR 1910.1001.This reply letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not detailed in your original correspondence.
Comment: You commented that the Asbestos standard's requirement in 1910.1001(j)(7)(iv) for annual awareness training is often unnecessary for experienced employees, and annual training may not add much value to overall employee safety. Given the facts that asbestos characteristics and properties do not change with time; that many asbestos products have been banned; and that more and more installed asbestos building materials are being removed every year, you have suggested that the OSHA Asbestos standard be changed to require awareness training every three to five years instead of annually. As a reference, you stated that "the electrical hazard (energized) training requires refresher training every three years, and this is a much more dynamic and evolving technology with potentially greater safety risks."
Reply: OSHA's asbestos standard for general industry at 29 CFR 1910.1001(j)(7)(iv) requires employers to provide an asbestos awareness training course for employees who perform housekeeping operations in areas where an asbestos-containing material (ACM) or presumed asbestos-containing material (PACM) is present. The elements of the course must include the health effects of asbestos; locations, signs of damage and deterioration of ACM and PACM; the proper response to fiber release episodes; and the standard's requirements related to housekeeping. This training must be held annually and conducted so that all employees understand it.
The standard does not specify the duration of this training, only the topics to be covered. One point that you mentioned was the fact that more and more asbestos building materials are being removed each year. We agree with you, and this fact demonstrates why employees must be informed of any changes in their workplaces that may have occurred since their last training.
The reason that the standard contains this training requirement for employees who perform housekeeping operations in facilities where ACM or PACM is present is because OSHA learned during its rulemaking process that there was evidence of asbestos disease among school custodians. The Agency believed that significant exposures to custodians resulted when they cleaned up accumulations of friable material with no knowledge or concern about asbestos hazards, such as when insulation debris had fallen to the floor because it was so badly deteriorated. OSHA believes that the work practices and precautions prescribed in its regulations will virtually eliminate significant health risks for custodial workers. Furthermore, the Agency's experience in enforcing its health and safety standards clearly establishes that training of employees is a vital component of any successful program to control exposures to asbestos and other toxic substances.
With regard to your statement that "electrical hazard (energized) training requires refresher training every three years," we do not know exactly to which standard you may be referring. For further reference you may consult OSHA's website, www.osha.gov, and view a 1998 OSHA on-line publication , Training Requirements in OSHA Standards and Training Guidelines, which summarizes for employers all of the various training requirements of the OSHA standards. Although this publication is ten years old, additional training requirements may be found on our website for all of OSHA's safety and health standards.
We 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 OSHA Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|