January 26, 1993
Cynthia A. Fronk, RN, BSN
Safety and Health Alliance, Inc.
12021 W. Bluemound Road
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53226
Dear Ms. Fronk:
This is in response to your letters of November 25, which were sent to a number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regional Offices. You requested an interpretation regarding the applicability of OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens," to the hotel/motel industry. Your letters have been referred to this office for response, and your questions will be answered in the order in which they were presented. Please bear in mind that this information represents federal OSHA policy and that states with state occupational safety and health programs may adopt standards which are more stringent than federal OSHA's.
[Question #1:] In your OSHA Region, is the determination of "Occupational exposure" based on the fluids of "Universal Precautions" (i.e., blood, semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, peritoneal fluid, pericardial fluid, saliva in dental procedures and amniotic fluid), or does "occupational exposure" also encompass other body fluids (i.e., urine, feces, sweat, tears, nasal, secretions and vomitus) which may, or may not, be visibly contaminated with blood? I understand that a number of state approved OSHA plans are including (or are contemplating including) these other body fluids into their state BBP standard for their definition of "occupational exposure."
[Answer #1:] "Occupational exposure" is defined in the standard as reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee's duties. The definition of "other potentially infectious materials" includes any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood. Urine, feces, sweat, tears, nasal secretions, and vomitus which are not visibly contaminated with blood are not considered to be "other potentially infectious materials."
[Question #2:] Does your OSHA Region interpret that hotel/motel room attendants, maids or housekeepers (who clean rooms, strip beds and pick-up soiled/wet linen and towels, etc.) to have "occupational exposure"? (Taking into consideration the wide variety of body fluids which these people encounter during their various job responsibilities.) Could this be considered "collateral duty"?
[Answer #2:] While OSHA does not generally consider housekeeping staff in non-health care facilities to have occupational exposure, it is the employer's responsibility to determine which job classifications or specific tasks and procedures involve reasonably anticipated contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials.
Employers in the hotel/motel industry must take into account all circumstances of potential exposure and determine which, if any, employees may come into contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials during the normal cleaning of rooms, stripping of beds, and handling of laundry from initial pick-up through laundering. Employees who handle, for example, linens soiled with urine that contains visible blood would be occupationally exposed. The employer may designate specific employees to perform the tasks and procedures, if any, that involve occupational exposure and train other employees to defer such tasks to employees designated to perform them.
For OSHA compliance purposes, if the agency determines, on a case-by-case basis, that sufficient evidence exists of reasonably anticipated occupational exposure, the employer will be held responsible for providing the protections of 29 CFR 1910.1030 to those employees with occupational exposure. Please note that the term "collateral duty" does not apply to these circumstances.
[Question #3:] Does your OSHA office interpret that housekeepers, custodians, and clean-up personnel for theaters, convention centers, and health clubs, etc. to have "occupational exposure." Could this be considered "collateral duty"?
[Answer #3:] See Answer to #2 above regarding housekeeping staff in non-health care facilities.
We hope this information is responsive to your concerns and thank you for your interest in worker safety and health.
Roger A. Clark,
Directorate of Compliance Programs