- Standard Number:
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 affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
July 7, 1993
Ms. Ann Tucker RN
Innovator Maternal/Child Health
RN RN MDs
4480 Sherman Oaks Circle
Sherman Oaks, California 92403
Dear Ms. Tucker:
This is in response to your letter of June 8, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens." Specifically, you asked us to "clarify the protocol that can allow blunting a needle... and allow one handed uncap/recap of needles prior to discard...". Your invention, the Bedside Caddy, is a device that apparently performs this procedure.
As you know, OSHA does not approve or endorse products. In general, OSHA does not review products as you have requested. The final determination of compliance must take into account all factors pertaining to the use of such devices at a particular worksite with respect to employee safety and health. This must include an evaluation through direct observation of employee work practices and all conditions of use in the workplace as well as an evaluation of the equipment or devices alone.
Additionally, because the Bedside Caddy is not yet on the market, and because the FDA will be conducting its own investigation into any hazards posed to employees using the device, we consider it to be premature at this time for OSHA to comment on this device.
Regarding your specific request for a clarification of the protocol that calls for blunting a needle against re-use and a one-handed recapping of needles prior to discard, OSHA considers a blunting procedure that leaves a nub as similar to the shearing or breaking of a needle. A "blunting" procedure appears to violate paragraph (d)(2)(vii), which specifically prohibits shearing or breaking of contaminated needles.
Further, needles are not to be bent or recapped unless required by a specific medical procedure or unless no alternative (such as immediate disposal into an appropriate sharps container) is feasible. Contaminated needles must be placed immediately in a sharps container. These restrictions are in place to eliminate any unnecessary manipulation of contaminated sharps by employees. Needles are expected to be used and immediately discarded, unrecapped, into accessible sharps containers.
We hope this information has been responsive to your concerns. Thank you for your interest in employee safety and health.
Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs