NEEDLE STICKS: Federal OSHA To Start Policymaking Process
The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration is "out in front" on the issue of requiring safety needles for health care workers, according to Charles Jeffress, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Jeffress announced yesterday that the federal OSHA would begin "a formal policymaking process to solve the problem" of needle sticks among medical workers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "I'm committed to finding a way to reduce needle sticks," said Jeffress yesterday, addressing a Washington, DC, conference on health care worker safety. But experts yesterday "said that they expect California to complete its new rules well before federal OSHA figures out what to do, and that the state may serve as a national model." The Chronicle notes that both Cal OSHA and the state Legislature "are writing new regulations to require safety needles." In addition, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has been "lobbying Jeffress for emergency regulations requiring the safety devices." While Jeffress said yesterday "he is committed to working with Boxer," he did not say exactly what measures he would take.
Starting next month, the federal OSHA will publish "a formal request in the Federal Register for information to help formulate its next move in preventing the injuries" from needle sticks. "We want to know what the best research is, what works," Jeffress said. He said the emergency measures are one option, or another would be rewriting compliance rules "to allow OSHA inspectors to cite hospitals and other health care employers that fail to provide the safety devices to their employers" (Carlsen, 8/11). Click needle sticks for past California Healthline coverage of the issue.