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hr5178pr2 1.html

Committee on Education and the Workforce


October 26, 2000

Contact: Becky Campoverde

or Dan Lara (202) 225-4527

Senate Passes Rep. Ballenger’s Needlestick Safety Bill

Bill to Protect Healthcare Workers from ‘Sharps’ Injuries Goes to President

WASHINGTON – The Senate approved today a bill authored by Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-NC) to help protect healthcare workers from accidental injury by needlesticks, which are injuries from needles and other "sharp" devices used in healthcare facilities. The bill passed by voice vote.

The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (H.R. 5178) amends the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard to include the definition of "safer medical devices" and the requirement that employers must consider and implement the use of such safer medical devices in their facilities. The House passed the bill on Oct. 3. It now goes to the president to be signed into law.

"I express my thanks to the Senate for their quick action on this important piece of legislation," said Ballenger, chairman of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. "Senators Jim Jeffords (R-VT), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Harry Reid (D-NV) were instrumental in clearing the way in the Senate for this legislation.

"Since the needlestick legislation passed the House, I have heard from a number of nurses and other healthcare workers expressing their support for our efforts. Nurses are a vital part of our nation’s healthcare system, and this legislation makes their jobs safer."

"I want to congratulate Congressman Ballenger for his leadership on this issue," said House Education and the Workforce Chairman Bill Goodling (R-PA). "He forged a consensus between the employer and the employee communities on the best way to protect health care workers."

"This legislation puts the safety of healthcare workers first," said Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), chairman of the Employer-Employee Relations Subcommittee. "More than 600,000 needlestick injuries occur annually. Safer medical devices decrease the risk of exposure and improve worker safety. The bill makes certain that safer medical devices will be used and the lives of health care workers will be made better for it."