OSHA REVISES BLOODBORNE PATHOGEN STANDARD TO COMPLY WITH THE NEEDLESTICK SAFETY AND PREVENTION ACT
workers who are occupationally exposed to bloodborne pathogens have contracted
fatal and other serious viruses and diseases, including the human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B, and hepatitis C from exposure to
blood and other potentially infectious materials in their workplace.
1991 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a standard
regulating occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, including the human
immunodeficiency virus, (HIV), the hepatitis B virus (HBV), and the hepatitis C
with the bloodborne pathogens standard has significantly reduced the risk that
workers will contract a bloodborne disease in the course of their work.
occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens from accidental sharps injuries in
health care settings continues to be a serious problem. In March 2000, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that more than 380,000
percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharps occur annually among health care
workers in United States hospital settings. Estimates for all health care
settings are that 600,000 to 800,000 needlestick and other percutaneous injuries
occur among health care workers annually. Such injuries can involve needles or
other sharps contaminated with bloodborne pathogens, such as HIV, HBV, or HCV.
publication of the bloodborne pathogens standard in 1991 there has been a
substantial increase in the number and assortment of effective engineering
controls available to employers. There is now a large body of research and data
concerning the effectiveness of newer engineering controls, including safer
interested parties responded to a Request for Information (referred to as the
"RFI") conducted by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration
in 1998 on engineering and work practice controls used to eliminate or minimize
the risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens due to percutaneous
injuries from contaminated sharps. Comments were provided by health care
facilities, groups representing health care workers, researchers, educational
institutions, professional and industry associations, and manufacturers of
studies have demonstrated that the use of safer medical devices, such as
needleless systems and sharps with engineered sharps injury protections, when
they are part of an overall bloodborne pathogens risk-reduction program, can be
extremely effective in reducing accidental sharps injuries.
March 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that,
depending on the type of device used and the procedure involved, 62 to 88
percent of sharps injuries can potentially be prevented by the use of safer
OSHA 200 Log, as it is currently maintained, does not sufficiently reflect
injuries that may involve exposure to bloodborne pathogens in health care
facilities. More than 98 percent of health care facilities responding to the RFI
have adopted surveillance systems in addition to the OSHA 200 Log. Information
gathered through these surveillance systems is commonly used for hazard
identification and evaluation of program and device effectiveness.
and education in the use of safer medical devices and safer work practices are
significant elements in the prevention of percutaneous exposure incidents. Staff
involvement in the device selection and evaluation process is also an important
element to achieving a reduction in sharps injuries, particularly as new safer
devices are introduced into the work setting.
of the bloodborne pathogens standard is appropriate to set forth in greater
detail its requirement that employers identify, evaluate, and make use of
effective safer medical devices.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
The information in the sharps injury log shall be recorded and maintained in such manner as to protect the confidentiality of the injured employee. The sharps injury log shall contain, at a minimum:
type and brand of device involved in the incident,
department or work area where the exposure incident occurred, and
explanation of how the incident occurred.
unanimously by Congress and signed by President Clinton on Nov. 6, 2000, the
Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act mandates 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
revised bloodborne pathogens standard was published in the Jan. 18 Federal
Register. The updated rules become effective April 18,2001.
The revised standard can be viewed at http://www.osha-slc.gov/needlesticks/index.html