NEEDLE STICKS: Cal OSHA May Tighten Standards
The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration "is considering new measures to force California health care employers to supply their workers with safe needle devices to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases from accidental needle sticks," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. At a meeting in San Francisco last week on the issue of needle safety, Cal OSHA officials said the existing "regulatory language is too vague to require employers to purchase the safer needles." Len Welsh, special counsel for Cal OSHA, said, "We are in a position to do more inspections to push employers in the right direction." The meeting was prompted by a "series of Chronicle reports in April that described an epidemic of needle sticks."
Meeting For Health
The Chronicle reports that "[m]ore than 40 health care experts, needle manufacturers and union representatives gathered ... to outline the scope of the needle stick problem and the difficulties they've had dealing with it." Dr. June Fisher, "a San Francisco specialist in safe needle design who has pushed for the devices in hospitals for more than a decade," said the agency needs to "put teeth" in the current regulations. She added that the "agency should mandate needle stick committees in hospitals." Meanwhile, Cal OSHA may issue "new 'compliance' instructions to its inspectors ... that would help them cite employers who are not converting to safe needles," and is "considering a 'special emphasis program' to focus resources on the problem" (Carlsen, 6/8).