Friday, August 30, 2013

Citation for not following the recommendations of ANSI Z358.1-1990?

April 18, 2002

Mr. Paul H***

Dear Mr. H***:

Thank you for your October 2, 2001 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Compliance Programs. You requested clarification of OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.151 (Medical Services and First Aid). This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. Your questions have been restated below for clarity. We apologize for the delay in your response.

Question 1: Will OSHA cite a facility for not following the recommendations as stated in ANSI standard Z358.1-1990? Specifically, will an OSHA inspector cite a facility for not supplying tempered water to an emergency eyewash and shower?

Reply: Paragraph (c) of 29 CFR 1910.151 requires the employer to provide suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body when employees may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials. ANSI standards become mandatory OSHA standards only when, and if, they are adopted by OSHA; ANSI Z358.1 was not adopted by OSHA. In comparison with the OSHA standard at 29 CFR 1910.151(c), however, ANSI Z358.1 provides detailed information regarding the installation and operation of emergency eyewash and shower equipment. OSHA, therefore, has often referred employers to ANSI Z358.1 as a source of guidance for protecting employees who may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials.

As you may know, 29 CFR 1910.151(c) does not provide specific instruction regarding the installation and operation of emergency eyewash and shower equipment. Therefore, it is the employer's responsibility to assess the particular conditions related to the eyewash/shower unit, such as water temperature, to ensure that the eyewash/shower unit provides suitable protection against caustic chemicals/materials to which employees may be exposed.

Question 2: Would the citation (in the situation described above) be written under 29 CFR 1910.151 or under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1)?

Reply: Since OSHA has a standard related to drenching/flushing facilities, any citation for the failure to provide suitable drenching/flushing facilities must be issued pursuant to 29 CFR 1910.151(c).

Question 3: While reading product literature on emergency shower units, it stated that 30 gpm was fairly standard among drench showers; are there specific requirements for the rate of flow for an emergency eyewash or shower unit?

Reply: OSHA has adopted no specific requirements regarding flow rates for drenching/flushing facilities. ANSI Z358.1 provides detailed information regarding the installation and operation of emergency eyewash and shower equipment, including the requirements for flow rate. Section 4.1 of ANSI Z358.1 specifies that emergency shower heads shall be capable of delivering a minimum of 75.7 liters per minute (20 gpm) of flushing fluid at a velocity low enough to be non-injurious to the user. A sufficient volume of flushing fluid shall be available to supply the flow rate for a minimum fifteen minute period.

Question 4: If OSHA is using the ANSI standard Z358.1-1990 for the basis of the OSHA standard 1910.151, doesn't OSHA need to make the ANSI standard available to the general public and/or industry? Where can I obtain a copy of the ANSI standard Z358.1-1990?

Reply: You may obtain copies of ANSI standards by contacting ANSI at:

American National Standards Institute, Inc.
11 West 42nd Street
New York, New York 10036
Phone: (212) 642-4900

Friday, August 23, 2013

Full face shields and water hose acceptable substitute for eye wash facility?

July 26, 1994
Director of Government Relations
National Association of
Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors
Falls Church, Virginia

Dear Ms. H***:

Thank you for your letter dated June 22 inquiring about your previous letters of October 4, and March 29 to Mr. Roger Clark requesting interpretation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Medical and First Aid standards. I apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiries.

With regard to whether full face shields and access to a water hose can be used as a substitute for a commercially available eye wash facility to comply with 1926.50(g), please be advised that this is acceptable but only under limited conditions. In areas where the extent of possible exposure to injurious corrosive materials is very low, a specially designated pressure controlled and identified water hose can be used when proper personal protective equipment also is used (e.g. full face shield). The hose system must be equipped with a proper face and body wash nozzle and provide copious amounts of low velocity potable water. An appropriate portable eye wash device containing not less than one gallon of potable water, would also be acceptable under these conditions. At locations where hazardous chemicals are handled by employees (e.g. battery servicing facility), proper eyewash and body drenching equipment must be available.

With regard to preparing for unknown hazard emergencies, please be advised that employers are responsible to provide eyewash facilities only if the potential for exposure to corrosive material is known to exist or could reasonably be expected to exist.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Interpretation: Enforcement guidance on cement and hexavalent chromium - Scenario #1

This is in response to a January 7, 2009, memo from Region V's Administrator, Michael Connors, with subject, "Portland Cement and Hexavalent Chromium." Region V requested guidance on enforcement issues pertaining to the issuance of portland cement and hexavalent chromium citations. Our reply has been coordinated with the Directorate of Construction and the Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs.

Scenarios: Region V sought clarification with respect to three specific construction scenarios:
  1. We need clarification as to what constitutes an acceptable eyewash station. For example, in freezing temperatures, employers need to prevent eyewash stations from freezing, so in lieu of traditional eyewash stations, they provide a garden hose, water containers, etc., located in a heated floor below the active working deck.
  2. We need clarification as to what constitutes "readily available" or "readily accessible." For example, an employer has running water at a mortar mixer, but has soap, towels, additional water, and a garbage can inside the job trailer. How far is too far away?
  3. We need clarification as to when long-sleeved shirts are required on employees working with portland cement. For example, a worker is using a long-handled trowel to smooth out and finish a concrete floor or road. Many employers do not feel the need to require long-sleeved shirts during concrete finishing operations.
Replies: OSHA's general standards for personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation, and first aid apply to skin and eye hazards from portland cement, and OSHA's Chromium (VI) standards apply to the same hazards from hexavalent chromium compounds. All of these provisions use general terms and phrases such as, "where a hazard is present," "provide appropriate protective clothing and equipment," "provide readily accessible washing facilities," "suitable facilities," "readily available," "within the work area," "near proximity," and "whenever it is necessary." In most situations, enforcement of these provisions simply requires professional judgment by compliance officers. OSHA has already issued a number of letters of interpretation on the applicable standards, and some of those letters are listed at the end of this memo for further reference.

Scenario #1: With respect to the question about whether hoses or water containers located on a heated floor below an unheated work area in freezing temperatures constitute a compliant eyewash facility, the applicable standard is 29 CFR 1926.50(g), which states: "Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use." [Emphasis added.]

In determining whether eyewash facilities are "suitable" for any corrosive materials or chemicals to which employees may be exposed, compliance officers and employers should evaluate the specific job tasks and work site conditions. This should include consulting the manufacturer's material safety data sheet (MSDS) for hazard information and first aid procedures. For portland cement, a typical manufacturer's MSDS provides the following information:
Emergency and First Aid Procedures: Irrigate eyes immediately and repeatedly with large amount of clean water for at least 15 minutes and get prompt medical attention.
Guidance on "suitability" may be found in consensus or industry standards, one of which is the 2009 version of ANSI Z358.1, American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment. For example, this ANSI standard specifies that plumbed and self-contained eyewashes shall be capable of delivering flushing fluid to the eyes at not less than 0.4 gallons per minute for 15 minutes (Section 5.1.6). Although OSHA does not enforce consensus standards, if an emergency eyewash complies with the ANSI standard, such compliance will usually meet the intent of the OSHA standard. In any event, OSHA considers it a de minimis condition if an employer complies with a consensus standard rather than with the applicable OSHA standard and the employer's action clearly provides equal or greater protection. See CPL 02-00-148, Field Operations Manual (Chapter 4, Section VIII.A.2., Nov. 9, 2009).

Depending on the circumstances, hoses and water containers may be "suitable" eyewash facilities. OSHA has previously recognized the potential suitability of the following types of eyewash facilities in situations in which there is a small likelihood of employee exposure to the corrosive material in question: 1) portable, self-contained eyewash devices containing at least one gallon of potable water; and 2) specially-designated and pressure-controlled water hoses equipped with proper face and body wash nozzles that can provide copious amounts of low velocity potable water. See OSHA's directive, STD 01-08-002, 29 CFR 1910.151(c), Medical Services and First Aid; 29 CFR 1926.50 and .51, Medical Service and First Aid, and Sanitation, Respectively; Applicable to Electric Storage Battery Charging and Maintenance Areas, March 8, 1982.

As for the location of the eyewash, 29 CFR 1926.50(g) requires that it be within the employee's work area and available for immediate use in case of exposure. Generally an eyewash facility on a floor below the active working deck would not be within the "work area." For reference, ANSI Z358.1 specifies that the eyewash unit is to be placed in an accessible location that is on the same level as the hazard and can be reached by the employee in no more than 10 seconds (Section 5.4.2). For a strong acid or a strong caustic, the ANSI standard further specifies that the eyewash should be located immediately adjacent to the hazard (Section 5.4.2). If there is a possibility of encountering freezing conditions, the ANSI standard specifies that the eyewash equipment is to be protected from freezing or that freeze-protected equipment be installed (Section 5.4.5). It follows that low temperatures alone may not justify a failure to provide suitable drenching facilities in the employee's work area in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.50(g). Methods of providing compliant facilities in areas affected by freezing temperatures may be feasible, such as using a portable heater to prevent freezing. The Review Commission has noted, however, that in some situations "it is evident that it would not be possible to maintain an eyewash ... outside during the winter." Bridgeport Brass Company, 11 BNA OSHC 2255 (No. 82-899, 1984).

Friday, August 9, 2013

Emergency medical services on construction sites

Re: Emergency medical services on construction sites

Dear Mr. R***:

We are in receipt of your correspondence dated May 26 and September 21, 2004, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding a number of issues related to emergency medical services on construction sites.

After considering the information in your letters and additional information you provided in telephone discussions with OSHA staff, we have paraphrased your questions as follows:

I. Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs)

Question 1: When will the rules on AEDs applicable to construction sites be finalized?

Answer: OSHA is not currently developing any construction standards regarding AEDs.

Question 2(a): Are there any OSHA requirements that prohibit an employer from terminating or threatening to terminate a licensed and insured Emergency Medical Technician ("EMT") for bringing an AED to the job site to render assistance if necessary?

Answer: First, note that there are no OSHA construction standards that specifically require an employer to provide an AED at a construction site.

Second, Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act ("OSH Act") prohibits employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee "because such employee has filed any complaint ... under or related to" the OSH Act. Whether the termination or the threat to terminate an EMT-certified employee for bringing an AED to a jobsite could be an 11(c) violation would depend on the specific facts involved.

Employees who believe that they have been discriminated against in violation of the OSH Act should contact the OSHA Area or Regional office serving their location (we have included OSHA's 11(c) information pamphlet for your review). For additional information please visit the OSHA website on The Whistleblower Program at: [ ]

Question 2(b): Does 29 CFR 1926.50 protect an EMT from being terminated by an employer based on emergency services rendered to a worker on a construction job site?

Answer: As stated in our answer to question 2(a) above, whether such a termination would violate Section 11(c) of the Act would depend on all the relevant factors involved, which you would need to discuss with OSHA's Area or Regional office for your location.

II. 29 CFR 1926.50 - Medical services and first aid.

Question 3: Does OSHA's construction standard for medical services and first aid (§1926.50) permit a union to designate specially qualified members as first-responders for emergency medicine?

Answer: In general, the OSH Act does not address labor relations issues, including whether a union has a right to designate a particular individual for a particular job.

Question 4: I am an electrician who works on construction sites where workers are exposed on a daily basis to the risks associated with high voltage. Does 1926.50 require the presence of an individual trained in first aid on construction sites where the response time to a request for medical assistance for such workers cannot be guaranteed within four minutes?

Answer: In 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart D (Occupational Health and Environmental Controls), §1926.50 (Medical services and first aid) provides in part:
* * *
(c) In the absence of an infirmary, clinic, hospital, or physician, that is reasonably accessible in terms of time and distance to the worksite, which is available for the treatment of injured employees, a person who has a valid certificate in first-aid training from the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the American Red Cross, or equivalent training that can be verified by documentary evidence, shall be available at the worksite to render first aid. [Emphasis added.]
* * *
[For OSHA's current policy on "reasonably accessible" and "near proximity," please see the 01/16/2007 Letter to Mr. Brogan.]

Question 5: Where 50 construction employees are spread out over 25 floors (or as many as 65 floors) in a high rise, would the presence of one individual trained in first aid satisfy the requirements of §1926.50?

Answer: Section 1926.50(b) provides:
Provisions shall be made prior to commencement of the project for prompt medical attention in case of serious injury.
In CMC Electric, the court stated that the purpose of §1926.50(b) is similar to that of §1926.50(c): 1
... the purpose of §1926.50(b) is to avoid any unnecessary delay in the administration of medical attention to an injured employee, particularly in the case of serious injury, where even a few minutes can make a difference.
The court stated also that the provisions are "complementing and overlapping." In analyzing §1926.50(b)'s "prompt medical attention" requirement, the court noted:
... [the requirement] should be read to require the employer to take reasonable steps to insure that in case of serious injury, medical attention can be obtained as quickly as possible. In addition to the time it takes to reach medical attention, this analysis should include a review of a variety [of] factors, such as: where the job site was located and how many employees were involved....[Emphasis added.]
In situations where a certified first aider is required under §1926.50(b) or (c), whether more than one first aider is required at a work site spread over many floors of a multi-story structure will depend on factors such as those described above. Given the limited information that you provided, we are unable to conclusively comment on whether the single certified individual would suffice under the "prompt medical attention" criteria in a multi-floor scenario. Factors such as whether functioning elevators are in yet, extent of on-site communications, and reasonably expected travel time up and down stairs (where elevators are not available) would be relevant to the assessment.

Question 6(a): Must employers provide medical equipment in addition to the first aid kit required in 29 CFR 1926.50(d)?

Answer: Title 29 CFR 1926.50 states that:
(a) The employer shall insure the availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of occupational health.
(b) Provisions shall be made prior to commencement of the project for prompt medical attention in case of serious injury.
* * *
(d)(1) First aid supplies shall be easily accessible when required.
(2) The contents of the first aid kit shall be placed in a weatherproof container with individual sealed packages for each type of item, and shall be checked by the employer before being sent out on each job and at least weekly on each job to ensure that the expended items are replaced.
* * *
Employers must provide a first aid kit that contains the basic supplies necessary to address typical worksite first aid needs. "Medical equipment" that goes beyond basic first aid needs is not required to be included in the kit. 2

Question 6(b): Must a construction employer provide medical equipment in addition to the first aid kit required in 29 CFR 1926.50(d) as a consequence of an employee having emergency medical training that goes well beyond basic first aid training?

Answer: No, there is no such OSHA requirement.

III. 29 CFR 1926.103 - Respiratory protection

Question 7: Are all the requirements of §1926.103 in effect as of June 1, 2004? Who is responsible for the ongoing yearly training, and refitting of respirators?

Answer: The requirements of §1926.103 3 have been in effect since April 8, 1998. The standard places the responsibility on the employer to ensure that the training, yearly retraining, and fit testing is conducted.

Question 8: Does §1926.103 require that all electricians be equipped with a properly fitted respirator and that all electrical contractors are required to have available on the job site sufficient cartridges to protect their workers from known hazards?

Answer: The standard does not specifically address electricians. Section 1910.134(a)(2) requires that respirators be worn "whenever it is necessary to protect the health of the employee from contaminated or oxygen deficient air."

IV. OSHAct 5(a)(1), "General Duty Clause"

Question 9: Does Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the "General Duty Clause") require general foremen on a construction site to meet any general qualifications?

Answer: Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act states that each employer:
... shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.
There is no general requirement under that section (the General Duty clause) for employers to ensure that, in all cases, foremen have some specified level of qualifications. 4 Note, though, that some OSHA construction standards require that a "competent person" or a "qualified person" perform certain tasks. There are definitions in those standards that describe the level of qualification for each of these designations.

Note also that §1926.21(b)(2) states:
The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.
Question 10: Does the General Duty Clause require employers to provide and train a designated first responder on every jobsite where five or more employees are performing construction work?

Answer: No, there is no such general requirement applicable in all cases. Note that, as discussed in questions 3-5, there are requirements regarding certified first aid personnel in §1926.50.

Therefore, an employer performing construction activities is required to provide a first aid responder on site only if there is no infirmary, clinic, hospital, or physician reasonably accessible in terms of time and distance to the worksite. The employer must ensure that the designated first aid responder has been properly trained to administer first aid (see the "valid certificate" requirement of §1926.50(c) in question 4 above).

Note also that §1926.50 is applicable irrespective of the number of employees at a particular site.

Question 11(a): Do OSHA standards require that there be a means of communication available at each worksite for summoning emergency medical assistance?

Answer: Yes. Section 1926.50(f) states:
In areas where 911 is not available, the telephone numbers of the physicians, hospitals, or ambulances shall be conspicuously posted.
The purpose of §1926.50(f) is to ensure that, where 911 is not available, the employer can rapidly contact emergency responders without wasting time trying to find the right phone number. Implicit in this requirement is that a means of communication must be available at each worksite. Having 911 available is useless if there is no way for the employer to call 911 from the worksite. Similarly, if 911 is unavailable, meeting the requirement to conspicuously post the emergency numbers at the worksite would be equally pointless.

Question 11(b): Scenario: An employer has a work rule prohibiting all employees except the employer-designated first aid responder from carrying cell phones on a worksite. An employee who is an EMT (but who is not the designated first aid responder) is also prohibited from carrying a cell phone. Would such a work rule violate any OSHA standards or the General Duty Clause?

Answer: Typically such a work rule would not violate any OSHA requirements.