Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act/
Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

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Summary of the Needlestick Law
[Public Law 106-430, 106th Congress, H.R. 5178]

This landmark achievement for nurses nationwide changed the Bloodborne Pathogens standard under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to provide increased protections to workers from exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus, and other viruses and infections. The same year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that from 62 percent to 88 percent of sharps injuries potentially could be prevented through use of safer medical devices.

The law requires employers to use work practice controls and safer needle devices that are engineered to eliminate or minimize exposure to bloodborne pathogens resulting from needlestick injuries. Employers must:

  • Demonstrate that they are reviewing new technology that can reduce risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens by updating exposure control plans and documenting the decision-making process on implementing such technology.
  • Maintain a sharps injury log to track the type and brand of device used, the department or area where the incident occurred, and an explanation of the incident. The log must be maintained in a manner to protect the confidentiality of the injured employee.
  • Solicit input from employees responsible for direct patient care in the identification, evaluation and selection of effective safety devices and work practice controls, as part of the ongoing exposure control plan development process. Efforts to encourage staff input must be documented in the plan.

Below is the full text of the law as well as other resources regarding this legislation.