Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., lifted his hold late Thursday on bipartisan legislation to protect health care workers from deadly needlestick injuries, clearing the way for Senate consideration this week.
Using a traditional privilege afforded all senators, Bunning had put a "hold" on the legislation at the request of a Lexington, Ky., company, MedPro Inc., that makes needle disposal equipment.
The legislation, which passed the House two weeks ago, would require hospitals and health care facilities to consider using safer medical devices to reduce the number of needle-related injuries.
Retractable needles and devices that automatically cover needle tips after they have been used are examples of such devices.
OSHA supports the legislation as an improvement in workplace safety.
In exchange for lifting the hold, Bunning said OSHA had agreed to go on record as saying that needle destruction devices continue to reduce the risk of injuries.
Members the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have led the fight for safer needles by winning legislation in 15 states.
Now they are gearing up to extend safeguards to health care workers in all 50 states by helping to pass the Senate bill.
"The Senate must act now to prevent other health care workers from suffering like I am," said Ellen Dayton, a former registered nurse and member of SEIU Local 790 in San Francisco who contracted HIV and hepatitis C from an accidental needlestick.
by Virginia Sutcliffe