- 2001;4;193-195Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act
A Health Law Review
Mark F. Tatelbaum, JD.
The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act to revise the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standard regulating occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, including the human immunodeficiency virus, the hepatitis B virus, and the hepatitis C virus, was signed into law on November 6, 2000. OSHA published in the Federal Register its regulations reflecting the Act and its requirments. The effective date of the regulations is April 18, 2001.
The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act seeks to further reduce health care workers’ exposure to bloodborne pathogens by imposing additional requirements upon employers, such as hospitals and ASCs, concerning their sharps procedures. Consistent with the Act, OSHA’s regulations (1) modify the definition of "engineering controls" and adds definitions for the terms "sharps with engineered sharps injury protection" and "needleless systems," (2) requires employers to consider and implement new technologies when they update their "exposure control plan," (3) requires employers to solicit employee input with respect to appropriate engineering controls, and (4) requires employers to maintain a sharps injury log.
Practical questions about implementing the new requirements are a source of major concern. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce stated in legislative history to the Act that the statute was not meant to disturb the underlying flexible, performance-oriented nature of the Initial Standard.
Keywords: Needle stick safety, bloodborne pathogens, health care workers, Occupational Safety and Health AdministrationPDF