OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA AFFIRMS NEED FOR SAFER DEVICES TO PREVENT NEEDLESTICKS, CALLS FOR EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT IN SELECTION
As mandated by the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, OSHA has revised its bloodborne pathogens standard to 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.
"These changes in the OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard reaffirm our commitment to protecting health care providers who care for us all," said Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman. "Newer, safer medical devices can reduce the risk of needlesticks and the chance of contracting deadly bloodborne diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis C. Employers need to consult their workers and use the safer devices when possible."
According to the Needlestick Act, in March 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that selecting safer medical devices could prevent 62 to 88 percent of sharps injuries in hospital settings.
"Our revised bloodborne pathogen standard sets forth clearly the importance of re-evaluating needle systems to identify safer devices every year. The new requirement to record all needlesticks will help employers determine the effectiveness of the devices they use and track how many needlesticks are occurring within their workplaces," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress.
The revised OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard specifically mandates consideration of safer needle devices as part of the re-evaluation of appropriate engineering controls during the annual review of the employer's exposure control plan. It calls for employers to solicit frontline employee input in choosing safer devices. New provisions require employers to establish a log to track needlesticks rather than only recording those cuts or sticks that actually lead to illness and to maintain the privacy of employees who have suffered these injuries.
Passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President Clinton on Nov. 6, 2000, the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act mandated specific revisions of OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard within six months. The legislation exempted OSHA from certain standard rulemaking requirements so that the changes could be adopted quickly.
The revised bloodborne pathogens standard is scheduled for publication in the Jan. 18 Federal Register. The updated rules become effective April 18, 2001.
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