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Trade News Release
Monday, February 22, 1999
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 693-1999 or Elise Handelman (202) 693-2120

OSHA JOINS FDA AND NIOSH IN WARNING HEALTH CARE WORKERS ABOUT HAZARDS FROM BREAKAGE OF GLASS CAPILLARY TUBES

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and two other federal agencies today warned health care workers and their employers about the health and safety dangers associated with accidental breakage of glass capillary tubes.

The tubes are used for collection of blood in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, physicians' offices, blood donation facilities, and blood testing centers.

In a joint safety advisory, OSHA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that breakage can result in possible injury and/or infection from bloodborne pathogens such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus.

Accidental breakage of the tubes has been reported when the tubes are inserted into putty for sealing and during centrifugation, the advisory said. Blood can spatter, potentially exposing personnel to bloodborne pathogens. The broken glass fragments also can injure the user, resulting in exposure to blood.

Breakage during use may result in a penetrating wound and blood inoculation to the user. One such injury resulted in transmission of HIV to a physician who has since died of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

"There are an estimated 2,800 injuries from glass capillary tube breakage every year," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Charles N. Jeffress. "OSHA wants to be sure that employees in labs and health care facilities receive the best possible protection against dangerous, potentially fatal exposures."

To reduce the risk, OSHA and its sister agencies recommend that users consider blood collection devices less prone to accidental breakage and readily available, including:

  1. Capillary tubes that are not made of glass,

  2. Glass capillary tubes wrapped in puncture-resistant film,

  3. Products that use a method of sealing that does not require pushing one end of the tube into putty to form a plug, or

  4. Products that allow the blood hematocrit to be measured without centrifugation.

Occupational injuries and illnesses sustained from capillary tubes may be recordable under OSHA's recordkeeping requirements (see 29CFR Part 1904:Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses). Among other things, proper work practices, such as those involving housekeeping, regulated waste, and the use of gloves are governed by the OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard. Post-exposure followup for employees may be indicated [see 29 CFR 1910.1030 and OSHA Instruction CPL 2-2.44C (March 6, 1992).]

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The text of this news release is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov.

Information on this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-693-1999.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.


OSHA News Release - Table of Contents OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents