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Needlestick safety bill on fast track

Federal legislation to protect healthcare workers from needlestick injuries is moving closer to passage. The push is on to enact the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, HR 5178/S. 3067, before Congress’s scheduled recess on October 6th.

Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-NC) and Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), chair and ranking member, respectively, of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, introduced a new needlestick bill (H.R. 5178) on Sept 14th. On Sept. 19th, the subcommittee unanimously passed it. Also on Sept. 19th, Sen. James Jeffords (R-VT) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced companion bill S. 3067.

HR 5178/S. 3067 would:

  • Strengthen OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen's standard to require the use of safer needles in health facilities;

  • Require involvement of frontline workers in determining which safer needles and sharps to use in their workplaces;

  • Provide for more accurate documentation of needlestick injuries by requiring a sharps injury log; and

  • Set a timeline of nine months for these requirements to take effect.

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