California Has First Safety Needle Law in Effect

It's little surprise that 18- to 34-year-olds are at the heart of a nationwide increase in illegal drug use, and the manufacturing industry traditionally draws heavily from this pool of job seekers.

The nation's first law mandating the use of safety needles went into effect July 1 in California. The law requires that healthcare institutions provide workers with needles designed with "engineered controls" to aid in protecting them from accidental needlesticks.

Other states have passed needlestick legislation. Tennessee's governor signed a law March 19. Texas Gov. George Bush signed similar legislation June 19, and New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman is expected to sign a bill mandating the use of safe needles within the next 30 days.

Momentum toward mandating safe needles for health care workers continues to grow on the national front. Reps. Pete Stark, D-Calif., and Marge Roukema, R-N.J., introduced a bill in the House mandating the use of safe needles for healthcare workers. To date, 82 additional members of Congress have added their support as co-sponsors, and Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., have introduced a similar bill in the Senate.

On May 20, Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman announced OSHA's plans to protect healthcare workers from accidental needlesticks, saying, "It is time to make sure that healthcare workers have up-to-date medical devices that limit the risk of needlesticks and the potential for developing deadly diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis."

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