No, plumbers, electricians and photocopy repair technicians do not require access to protected health information to perform their services for a physician’s office, so they do not meet the definition of a “business associate”. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, “business associates” are contractors or other non-workforce members hired to do the work of, or for, a covered entity that involves the use or disclosure of protected health information. See the definition of “business associate” at 45 CFR 160.103.

Any disclosure of protected health information to such technicians that occurs in the performance of their duties (such as may occur walking through or working in file rooms) is limited in nature, occurs as a by-product of their duties, and could not be reasonably prevented. Such disclosures are incidental and permitted by the Privacy Rule. See 45 CFR 164.502(a)(1).