What is the Needlestick Safety & Prevention Act?

Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act aims to protect healthcare workers from exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Read this lesson to learn about the Act and how it helps employees in their workplaces.

Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as 88% of all sharps injuries could be prevented through the use of safer medical equipment and better operating procedures. Sharps are any device that can puncture or cut the skin, such as needles, syringes, or lancets. Sharps are regulated because of their potential to spread bloodborne pathogens like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) passed the original Bloodborne Pathogens Standard in 1991, and this document set forth practices to both prevent and regulate treatment and response to accidental exposure to bloodborne pathogens. This standard was amended in 2000, partially through the implementation of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. Together, these laws protect worker safety for people who work in fields where exposure to bloodborne pathogens is possible, either through contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials.

Requirements of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act

Let's consider the experience of Megan, a nurse working in the U.S. When she started working as a nurse, Megan was familiar with the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, but the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was new, and its passage meant she and her co-workers had new trainings they needed to take. At first they were confused by what the passage of the Act meant for them, but over time they realized the Act was intended to help them and make their jobs safer. How? Well, let's take a look.

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