OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard, or BBP standard, requires workplaces to have policies and controls in place to protect employees from needlestick injuries and exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The standard defines engineering controls, such as sharps disposal containers, self-sheathing needles, safer medical devices such as sharps with engineered sharps injury protections and needleless systems that isolate or remove the bloodborne pathogens hazard from the workplace.
In a response for clarification on the requirement that needleless connectors be used on vascular access lines, OSHA stated that the BBP standard requires employers to use engineering and work practice controls to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure to bloodborne hazards to the lowest feasible extent in the workplace. The most effective way of removing the hazard is to eliminate the needle completely by using needleless systems.
The letter of clarification further states, “…that control of patient infections related to needleless connectors may be addressed by the following measures, among others:
Selection and use of appropriately designed needleless connectors.
Education and training of healthcare workers in hospital and manufacturer protocols for using the devices.
Proper work practices, including the use of disinfectants and regular maintenance of the needleless connectors.”
If your workforce is at risk for occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials, review the BBP standard and OSHA’s interpretation of needleless connectors as part of your workplace safety practice.
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