OSHA announced that changes in its bloodborne pathogens standard, intended to reduce needlesticks among healthcare workers and others who handle medical sharps, will go into effect Wednesday, April 18.
The agency is planning a 90-day outreach and education effort before enforcing the new rules.
Mandated by the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, changes to OSHA''s bloodborne pathogens standard were published Jan. 18, to take effect April 18, 2001.
The revisions 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.
Specifically, the revised OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard obligates employers to consider safer needles when they conduct their annual review of their exposure control plan.
Safer sharps are considered appropriate engineering controls, the best strategy for worker protection, according to OSHA.
The original bloodborne pathogens standard only required recording of those cuts or sticks that actually resulted in illness.
The updated standard also includes provisions designed to maintain the privacy of employees who have experienced needlesticks.
by Virginia Sutcliffe