NATIONAL NEWS RELEASE
Thursday, April 12, 2001
Contact: Bill Wright
Phone: (202) 693-1999
NEEDLESTICK REQUIREMENTS TAKE EFFECT APRIL 18
OSHA announced today that changes in its bloodborne pathogens standard intended to reduce needlesticks among healthcare workers and others who handle medical sharps will go into effect April 18. The agency is planning a 90-day outreach and education effort before enforcing the new rules.
Mandated by the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, changes to OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard were published January 18, 2001, to take effect April 18, 2001. The revisions clarify the need for employers to select safer needle devices as they become available and to involve employees in identifying and choosing the devices. The updated standard also requires employers to maintain a log of injuries from contaminated sharps.
Specifically, the revised OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard obligates employers to consider safer needle devices when they conduct their annual review of their exposure control plan. Safer sharps are considered appropriate engineering controls, the best strategy for worker protection.
Involving frontline employees in selecting safer devices will help ensure that workers who are using the equipment have the opportunity for input into purchasing decisions. The new needlestick log will help both employees and employers track all needlesticks to help identify problem areas or operations. The updated standard also includes provisions designed to maintain the privacy of employees who have experienced needlesticks.
Passed unanimously by Congress, the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act took effect November 6, 2000. It specified revisions of OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard and
directed the agency to make these changes within six months. The legislation exempted OSHA from certain standard rulemaking requirements so that the revised bloodborne pathogens standard could be adopted quickly. These changes now go into effect as originally scheduled.
* The following language is intended to provide further clarification of employer requirements under the revised bloodborne pathogens standard: Employers are required to use safer medical devices wherever feasible in order to reduce the risk of injury from sharps. The revised standard requires employers to document their consideration and implementation of these devices in the annual review of their exposure control plan and document the solicitation and input provided by frontline employees in their selection.
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(The text of this news release is available on the OSHA website at http://www.osha.gov.) Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.