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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens
• Section: 1
• Title: Section 1 - I. Introduction

I. Introduction

The preamble to the Final Standard for Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens discusses the events leading to the promulgation of final standard, health effects of exposure, degree and significance of the risk, an analysis of the technological and economic feasibility of the standard's implementation, regulatory impact and regulatory flexibility analysis, and the rationale behind the specific provisions of the standard.

The public was invited to comment on these matters following publication of the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on November 27, 1987 (52 FR 45436) and following publication of the Proposed Standard on May 30, 1989 (54 FR 23042).

The Agency recognizes the unique nature of both the healthcare industry and other operations covered by this standard. The Agency concludes the employee protection can be provided in a manner consistent with a high standard of patient care.

Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Standard (29 CFR 1910.120) covers three groups of employees: workers at uncontrolled hazardous waste remediation sites; workers at Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities; and those workers expected to respond to emergencies caused by the uncontrolled release of hazardous substances.

The definition of hazardous substance includes any biological agent or infectious material which may cause disease or death. There are three potential scenarios where the bloodborne and hazardous waste operations and emergency response standard may interface. These scenarios include: workers involved in cleanup operations at hazardous waste sites involving regulated waste; workers at RCRA permitted incinerators that burn infectious waste; and workers responding to an emergency caused by the uncontrolled release of regulated waste (e.g., a transportation accident).

Employers of employees engaged in these three activities must comply with the requirements in 29 CFR 1910.120 as well as the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. If there is a conflict or overlap, the provision that is more protective of employee health and safety applies.

Information Collection Requirements

5 CFR 1320 sets forth procedures for agencies to follow in obtaining OMB clearance for information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. The final bloodborne pathogen standard requires the employer to allow OSHA access to the exposure control plan, medical and training records. In accordance with the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act and the regulations issued pursuant thereto, OSHA certifies that it has submitted the information collection to OMB for review under section 3504(h) of that Act.

Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average five minutes per response to allow OSHA compliance officers access to the employer's records. Send comments regarding this burden estimate, or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to the Office of Information Management, Department of Labor, Room N-1301, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210; and to the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (Bloodborne Pathogens), Washington, D.C. 20503.


This standard has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12612, 52 FR 41685 (October 30, 1987), regarding Federalism. This Order requires that agencies, to the extent possible, refrain from limiting State policy options, consult with States prior to taking any actions that would restrict State policy options, and take such actions only when there is clear constitutional authority and the presence of a problem of national scope. The Order provides for preemption of State law only if there is a clear Congressional intent for the Agency to do so. Any such preemption is to be limited to the extent possible.

Section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), expresses Congress' clear intent to preempt State laws with respect to which Federal OSHA has promulgated occupational safety or health standards. Under the OSH Act a State can avoid preemption only if it submits, and obtains Federal approval of, a plan for the development of such standards and their enforcement. Occupational safety and health standards developed by such Plan-States must, among other things, be at least as effective in providing safe and healthful employment and places of employment as the Federal standards.

The bloodborne pathogens standard is drafted so that employees in every State will be protected by general, performance-oriented standards. To the extent that there are State or regional peculiarities, States with occupational safety and health plans approved under Section 18 of the OSH Act would be able to develop their own State standards to deal with any special problems. Moreover, the performance nature of this standard, of and by itself, allows for flexibility by States and employers to provide as much safety as possible using varying methods consonant with conditions in each State.

In short, there is a clear national problem related to occupational safety and health for employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens. Those States which have elected to participate under Section 18 of the OSH Act would not be preempted by this regulation and would be able to deal with special, local conditions within the framework provided by this performance-oriented standard while ensuring that their standards are at least as effective as the Federal standard.

State Plans

The 23 States and 2 territories with their own OSHA-approved occupational safety and health plans must adopt a comparable standard within 6 months after the publication of a final standard for occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens or amend their existing standard if it is not "at least as effective" as the final Federal standard. OSHA anticipates that this standard will have a substantial impact on state and local employees. The states and territories with occupational safety and health state plans are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, the Virgin Islands, Washington, and Wyoming. (In Connecticut and New York, the plan covers only State and local government employees). Until such time as a State standard is promulgated, Federal OSHA will provide interim enforcement assistance, as appropriate.

[56 FR 64004, Dec. 6, 1991; 57 FR 29206, July 1, 1992]

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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