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Enforcement of Bloodborne Pathogens Standard to Start in July

Kate Traynor

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) intends July 12 to start enforcing the new provisions in the revised "Bloodborne Pathogens Standard."

OSHA’s upcoming enforcement effort follows a three-month "outreach period" during which the agency publicized changes to the 10-year-old standard. Slated for enforcement is a requirement that employers with more than 10 workers maintain a "sharps injury log." Also to be enforced is a requirement that employers seek input from frontline workers when selecting "safer medical devices" designed to protect workers from needlesticks.

According to OSHA, the revised standard imposes no new worker-protection requirements on employers but does clarify provisions contained in the original document. In particular, the revised standard spells out in greater detail OSHA’s definition of protective "engineering controls," which include medical devices not in use when the original standard was written.

Among the safer medical devices now available are shielded or retracting catheters and intravenous infusion equipment containing sheathed needles. The standard also mentions needleless systems for percutaneous delivery of medication or fluids.

The revised standard stresses that employers must be aware of technological advances that result in the creation of products designed to decrease needlestick and sharps-related injuries. Revision of the standard was mandated by the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, enacted last year.

For a summary of the revised standard, a list of frequently asked questions, and other descriptive materials, visit the OSHA Web site.