News & Events

Needlestick injuries continue despite 2000 rewrite of OSHA standard

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
November/December 2005 Edition

By Evelyn Bain, M Ed, RN, COHN-S
Associate Director/Coordinator, Health & Safety

Reports to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health related to needlestick injuries in Massachusetts hospitals reveal that in 2002 more than 50 percent of injuries from hollow bore/hypodermic needles were from needles that did not have a safety component designed to prevent injuries.

The MNA’s health and safety division believes unsafe devices, including hypodermic needle, are still being used in many work settings.

Hypodermic needles are the most readily available of all engineered safety devices. Insulin and TB syringes with attached needles, as well as lancets, are all available with safety features.

According to the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, the employer must:

  • document annually consideration and implementation of appropriate commercially available and effective medical devices designed to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure; and
  • establish an Exposure Control Plan and shall solicit input from non-managerial employees responsible for direct patient care who are potentially exposed to injuries from contaminated sharps in the identification and work-practice controls and shall document the solicitation in the Exposure Control Plan.

Are unsafe hypodermic needles still being used in your hospital or work setting?

If so, obtain the information requested and fax to 781.821.4445 or mail it to the MNA’s health and safety division, 340 Turnpike Street, Canton, MA 02021. The information will be forwarded to the appropriate OSHA office to ask for an investigation as to why—five years after safer devices were re-emphasized by OSHA—this travesty continues. Be sure to include your name and phone number in case there are questions. Your confidentiality will be maintained.

You can get most of the necessary information needed to identify the device by simply looking at the device’s packaging. It is essential to correctly identify the standard (unsafe) device being used so that it can be identified when OSHA is notified of this violation.

Please identify the following for the standard (unsafe) needle report: date of use; hospital name & floor/specialty unit; what the device is used for; device type; and brand and model

If you know of an injury that has occurred as a result of using this device, please include the particulars of that injury—including whether or not the injury was reported.