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Occupational Safety and Health Administration


RIN: 1218-AC46

Publication ID: Fall 2010

Title: Infectious Diseases

Abstract: Employees in health care and other high-risk environments face long-standing infectious diseases hazards such as tuberculosis (TB), varicella disease (chickenpox, shingles), and measles (rubeola), as well as new and emerging infectious disease threats, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and pandemic influenza. Health care workers and workers in related occupations or who are exposed in other high-risk environments are at increased risk of contracting TB, SARS, MRSA, and other infectious diseases that can be transmitted through a variety of exposure routes. OSHA is concerned about the ability of employees to continue to provide health care and other critical services without unreasonably jeopardizing their health. OSHA is considering the need for a standard to ensure that employers establish a comprehensive infection control program and control measures to protect employees from infectious disease exposures to pathogens that can cause significant disease. Workplaces where such control measures might be necessary include: health care, emergency response, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, drug treatment programs, and other occupational settings where employees can be at increased risk of exposure to potentially infectious people. A standard could also apply to laboratories which handle materials that may be a source of pathogens, and to pathologists, coronersí offices, medical examiners, and mortuaries. OSHA published an RFI on May 6, 2010, the comment period closed on August 4, 2010. OSHA is currently analyzing the comments submitted by stakeholders.

Agency: Department of Labor(DOL)

Priority: Economically Significant

RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda

Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Prerule Stage

Major: Undetermined

Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined

CFR Citation: 29 CFR 1910 (To search for a specific CFR, visit the Code of Federal Regulations.)

Legal Authority: 5 USC 533; 29 USC 657 and 658; 29 USC 660; 29 USC 666; 29 USC 669; 29 USC 673; ...

Legal Deadline: None

Statement of Need: In 2007, the healthcare and social assistance sector as a whole had 16.5 million employees. Healthcare workplaces can range from small private practices of physicians to hospitals that employ thousands of workers. In addition, healthcare is increasingly being provided in other settings such as nursing homes, free-standing surgical and outpatient centers, emergency care clinics, patientsí homes, and prehospitalization emergency care settings. The Agency is particularly concerned by studies that indicate that transmission of infectious diseases to both patients and healthcare workers may be occurring as a result of incomplete adherence to recognized, but voluntary, infection control measures. Another concern is the movement of healthcare delivery from the traditional hospital setting, with its greater infrastructure and resources to effectively implement infection control measures, into more diverse and smaller workplace setting with less infrastructure and fewer resources, but with an expanding worker population.

Summary of the Legal Basis: The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 authorizes the Secretary of Labor to set mandatory occupational safety and health standards to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women (29 U.S.C. 651).

Alternatives: The alternative to the proposed rulemaking would be to take no regulatory action.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: The estimates of the costs and benefits are still under development.

Risks: Analysis of risks is still under development.




FR Cite

Request for Information (RFI)


75 FR 24835

RFI Comment Period End



Analyze Comments



Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined

Government Levels Affected: Undetermined

Federalism: Undetermined

Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes

RIN Data Printed in the FR: No

Agency Contact:
Dorothy Dougherty
Director, Directorate of Standards and Guidance
Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue NW., FP Building, Room N-3718,
Washington, DC 20210
Phone:202 693-1950
Fax:202 693-1678