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Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act Passes House

 Goal is to Protect Healthcare Workers From 'Sharps' Injuries

 October 3, 2000

Source: Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives

Contact: Becky Campoverde or Dan Lara

(202) 225-4527

WASHINGTON – The House approved bipartisan legislation today to help protect healthcare workers from accidental injury by needlesticks, which are needles and other sharp devices used in the healthcare facilities. The bill, 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 bill, sponsored by subcommittee chairman Cass Ballenger (R-NC) passed by voice vote.

"This legislation will help ensure that our nation’s nearly eight million health care workers will not have to risk their own health, and perhaps their own lives, when providing care for all of us," Ballenger said. "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."

"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."

Since it was issued in 1991, the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is credited with bringing about significant improvements in reducing the risks of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Despite the improvements, the number of accidental needlestick injuries to healthcare workers remains high. During the past 10 years, significant improvements have been made in the types and kinds of needle devices available to employers to help protect against needlestick and other sharps injuries.

"Safer medical devices" commonly refer to needles and other medical instruments that have built-in safety mechanisms that reduce or eliminate exposure to needles or other sharp objects. The legislation requires employers to maintain a record of sharps injuries, known as a "sharps injury log," as a means to record the high risk areas in their facilities and to include frontline health care workers in the selection of safer devices.

To download a copy of this bill go to: http://thomas.loc.gov and type in "Needlestick Safety" at By Word/Phrase which will take you to a list of search results. H.R. 5178 should be the first result of the search.