OSHA: Helpful Reminders
Recapping Fill Needles
Q: What guidance does OSHA give on recapping fill needles?
A: OSHA is pretty blunt about recapping needles. They donâ€™t recommend it! The Bloodborne Pathogens standard section (d)(2)(vii) states: â€śContaminated needles and other contaminated sharps shall not be bent, recapped, or removed.â€ť The violation of the OSHA standard could not only injure staff members but also cost it as much as $7,000 as a serious fine, as classified by OSHA. If an employer continues this practice, it could become a willful fine, which ups the ante to $70,000.
The use of Scalpels and Safety Needles
Q: When OSHA insists on the use of safety needles and scalpels, isnâ€™t it overstepping its authority by telling doctors how to practice medicine?
A: Thatâ€™s not how the agency sees things. With regard to the use of safety devices, OSHA says in an interpretation letter: â€śThe intent of the OSHA standard was never to usurp the practitionerâ€™s authority in deciding the best method of achieving a positive health outcome for a patient during a procedure. OSHA recognizes there might be unique circumstances where the safety of the patient or the integrity of a procedure might be best served with the use of a device that is not a safety device. In those situations, it is important that good work practice controls, such as eliminating hand-to-hand instrument passing in the operating room, be implemented to provide protection to employees who are at risk of getting injured by an unprotected device.â€ť However, the agency maintains that â€śpractitioner preference is generally not an excuse for failure to use engineering controls.â€ť
In 2013, OSHA issued a medical practice one willful citation, with a fine of $28,000, for using non-engineered hypodermic needles instead of safer needle devices, such as needless systems and sharps with engineered sharp protections.Â OSHA standards â€śrequire that the safer devices be used at all times. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the lawâ€™s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.â€ť
If you have any questions about the Bloodborne Pathogens standard or any other OSHA standard please do not hesitate to contact one of our professional consultants.