NEEDLE SAFETY: Chronicle Backs Emergency Measure
An editorial in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle says California lawmakers and Gov. Pete Wilson "have a wonderful opportunity" to save health care workers' lives by passing a safe-needle bill. Sponsored by Assemblywomen Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), AB 1208 would require the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration to "define safe needle devices and require employers to use them to help prevent accidental needle jabs that transmit contagious, deadly diseases like the AIDS virus and hepatitis." And yet, the Chronicle notes, "those who should be leading the charge for safe needles" -- such as the California Healthcare Association -- are contesting the bill, saying the issue needs to be studied further. The editorial argues that testing has already been done on the devices, and that it is not "difficult to test a few of the safety needles and choose one that works well."
Cal OSHA Bureaucracy
Cal OSHA has proposed standards similar to those in Migden's bill, but the editorial contends that the "interminable Cal OSHA process and the uncertainty about whether its recommendations would be implemented argue for the assemblywoman's 'emergency' legislation." The editorial concludes: "A grindingly slow bureaucracy, a knee-jerk reaction by employers against anything that costs more money and greedy manufacturers have so far prevented" safety needles from being available, but "[s]peedy approval in the Senate and Assembly and Governor Wilson's signature on Migden's bill would put California on the map as a state that cares about the health and safety" of its health care workers (7/12). Click here to read past California Healthline coverage of the safety-needle issue.