Trade News Release
Thursday, June 17, 1999
Contact: Bill Wright
PHONE : (202) 693-1999
OSHA REOPENS TUBERCULOSIS RULEMAKING RECORD; REQUESTS COMMENTS ON HOMELESS SHELTER STUDY, OTHER ISSUES
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reopened the tuberculosis (TB) rulemaking record today, seeking public comment on issues related to homeless shelters, medical waste treatment facilities and other occupational exposures to the disease.
The record will remain open until Aug. 2, 1999, for comment on OSHA's report about tuberculosis control practices in homeless shelters and a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) evaluation on occupational exposure to tuberculosis from processing medical wastes. The agency also placed in the record three documents that address respiratory protection against TB, and one article that outlines specific guidelines to protect workers against the disease.
OSHA first published its proposed standard to regulate occupational exposure to tuberculosis on Oct. 17, 1997. The standard will help protect an estimated 5.3 million workers in more than 100,000 hospitals, homeless shelters, long-term care facilities for the elderly, detention facilities and other work settings with a high risk of TB infection.
During the proposal's development, OSHA staff and others considered how a TB standard would effect homeless shelters, given the unique characteristics of both the workforce and the client population, as well as the non-profit nature of most homeless shelters. OSHA initiated a study to examine these issues further through an on-site survey of homeless shelters. The results of this study were not available to the agency until after the original public comment period had closed.
OSHA also looked at other work settings that may be included within the scope of the standard. Public hearing testimony noted potentially significant exposures at medical waste treatment facilities handling medical wastes that had not been decontaminated before coming to the facility. At the time of the hearings, NIOSH was conducting a Health Hazard Evaluation at a medical waste treatment facility to evaluate such exposure. That final evaluation was completed after the close of the public comment period.
OSHA is also seeking additional information and comment on the feasibility of including TB and AIDS clinics, parole and probation officers, and all social service workers within the scope of a final standard. Finally, the agency placed in the docket four documents that became available after the close of the comment period. Three of the documents are related to respiratory protection issues discussed during the hearings, while the fourth document outlines the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine's (ACOEM) recommendations for controlling the transmission of TB.
Public comment is invited on the homeless shelter study, NIOSH's evaluation of medical waste facilities, and the four documents listed above. Comments should be limited to issues raised in the documents; participants do not need to resubmit evidence or comments that are already in the record.
The entire TB rulemaking record, including the new documents, is available for review and copying at OSHA's Docket Office at the address listed below. The Docket Office phone number is (202) 693-2350.
Those interested should submit two copies of their comments to: Docket Office, Docket No. H-371, Room N-2625, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. Comments of 10 pages or less may be transmitted via fax to (202) 693-1648. Comments may also be submitted electronically via OSHA's web site at the following address:
Information such as studies and journal articles cannot be attached to electronic submissions but should be mailed to the above address with the respondent's electronic submission by name, date and subject.
Notice of the rulemaking's reopening is published in the June 17, 1999 Federal Register.
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This news release text is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.