OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA Trade Release
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Office of Communications
For Immediate Release
TRADE NEWS RELEASE
Wednesday, June 12, 2002
Contact: Frank Meilinger
Phone: (202) 693-1999
OSHA CLARIFIES POSITION ON THE REMOVAL OF CONTAMINATED NEEDLES
WASHINGTON -- OSHA is clarifying its policy on the prohibition of removing contaminated needles from blood tube holders in order to reduce the dangers of needlesticks for healthcare workers and others who handle medical sharps.
"Removing contaminated needles and reusing blood tube holders can expose workers to multiple hazards," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "We want to make it very clear that this practice is prohibited in order to protect workers from being exposed to contaminated needles."
OSHA explains in a letter of interpretation that the bloodborne pathogens standard requires blood tube holders with needles attached to be immediately discarded into a sharps container after the device's safety feature is activated.
In the revised Bloodborne Pathogens compliance directive, the agency outlines its contaminated needle policy and explains that removing a needle from a used blood-drawing/phlebotomy device is rarely, if ever, required by a medical procedure. Because these devices involve the use of a double-ended needle, removing the needle exposes employees to additional risk, as does the increased manipulation of a contaminated device.
"NIOSH applauds this effort to protect the nation's health care workers from needlestick injuries," said Kathleen M. Rest, Acting Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). "Reducing these workers' risk of needlesticks decreases their risk of infection from hepatitis C, HIV, and other blood-borne pathogens."
The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard also prohibits contaminated needles and other contaminated sharps from being bent, recapped, or removed, unless the employer demonstrates that no alternative is feasible or that such action is required by a specific medical or dental procedure.
OSHA's policy on the removal of contaminated needles is further explained in the letter of interpretation, which is available on OSHA's web site.
This news release text is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.
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