OSHA revised its bloodborne pathogens standard on January 18, 2001, to clarify the need for employers to select safer needle devices as they become available and to involve employees in identifying and choosing these devices.

The need for safer needle devices to prevent needlesticks was mandated by the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act unanimously passed by Congress and signed into law by former President Clinton on November 6, 2000.

The updated rules go into effect April 18, 2001.

The new rules specifically require employers to consider safer needle devices as part of the re-evaluation of appropriate engineering controls that is conducted as part of the annual review of an employer’s exposure control plan.

Employers must solicit input from frontline employees in choosing safer devices.

New provisions also require employers to set up a log to track needlesticks, rather than recording only cuts or sticks that actually lead to illness.

Employers must also maintain the privacy of employees who have suffered these injuries.