Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.1020; 1910.1020(c)(10); 1910.1020(d)(1)(ii)

May 26, 2006

Mr. James (Jamie) Rubin
Environmental Health and Safety
Mailstop A9
Agilent Technologies, Inc.
4380 Ziegler Road
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525-9790

Dear Mr Rubin:

Thank you for your letter to Mr. Greg Baxter, Regional Administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Denver Regional Office. Your letter was forwarded to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP) for a response. For clarification, your specific question is paraphrased below, followed by OSHA's response. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any scenario not delineated within your original correspondence.

Scenario: A fire code regulation requires the semiconductor industry to provide continuous area monitoring for toxic gases with poor warning properties. As a result, our facility monitors several locations including portions of a production area and other locations where employees work. The monitoring equipment automatically prints out an 8-hour average for all points monitored. These readings, if quantified, amount to approximately 450 employee exposure records each day. The readings themselves do not provide enough information regarding where the sampling points are located, therefore creating a meaningful exposure record from the continuous monitoring printouts requires the addition of information to each reading. Our records show that over the past 10 years, we have had approximately 20 non-zero readings.

Question: Do we need to maintain all "zero" or "none-detected" printouts as employee exposure records for 30 years per the requirement in 1910.1020(d)(1)(ii)?

Reply: According to your letter, your company and others in the semiconductor industry are required to perform continuous gas monitoring in accordance with the Uniform Fire Code, and not because of a specific OSHA regulation. It is unclear from your letter whether you are also required by the fire code to maintain physical copies of all readings generated from your continuous monitoring equipment. Nevertheless, you are in fact generating printouts of environmental monitoring.

As you may know, 29 CFR 1910.1020 defines an employee exposure record as "a record containing. . .(i) Environmental (workplace) monitoring or measuring of a toxic substance or harmful physical agent, including personal, area, grab, wipe, or other form of sampling. . ." Therefore the information contained in the printouts is therefore to be considered a record of employee exposure, which must be preserved and maintained under the regulation. Further, all sampling results, including non-detectable sampling results, together with supporting documentation about the sampling and analytical method used to get that result, is part of the employee exposure record that must be preserved. Regarding the retention time for employee exposure records, 1910.1020(d)(1)(ii)(A) provides that "each employee exposure record be preserved and maintained for at least thirty years. . ."

It is important to note that it is the information contained on each of these printouts that is required to be maintained for at least thirty years. Taking into consideration the volume of data generated daily from these readings, it is advisable to consider alternatives which might reduce the burden of paper generated and maintained. Also, given that these reports from the continuous exposure monitoring are printed on thermal paper and, as you stated in your letter, this paper does not lend itself to long-term record retention, alternative ways of maintaining the information contained in these reports would be necessary.

As you may know, the standard defines a record as "any item, collection, or grouping of information regardless of the form or process by which it is maintained (e.g., paper document, microfiche, microfilm, X-ray film or automated data processing). [1910.1020(c)(10)].

Maintaining these records for the requisite time could be accomplished by having the printouts copied onto regular copy paper, transcribed onto microfilm, or scanned into a computer database. An additional option would be to generate and maintain electronic spreadsheets identifying each monitoring location for which default readings of "zero" appear for all "non-detectable" readings, and numeric values are entered for all "detectable" or "non-zero" readings. The information generated on the continuous monitoring printouts is thus maintained and preserved electronically.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be a