ADOPTS OSHA NEEDLESTICK REQUIREMENTS
Existing AK Law Superceded In Part by More Stringent Federal Standards
has adopted by reference federal OSHA changes in its bloodborne pathogens
standard intended to reduce needle sticks among healthcare workers
and others who handle medical “sharps,” the Department of Labor and
Workforce Development announced today. The new federal rules went
into effect in April and were mandated by the Needlestick Safety and
The revisions clarify the need for employers to select safer needle
devices, as they become available, and to involve employees in identifying
and choosing the devices.
“We want employees to know that Alaska will enforce the federal standard
covering needlesticks and sharps to comply with OSHA requirements,”
said Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development Ed Flanagan.
Last year the Legislature passed Senate Bill 261, which established
needlestick requirements for health care employers with twenty-five
or more employees. The new OSHA law applies to all employers, including
dental offices, which were exempted from the state law.
The department is promulgating regulations to implement those provisions
of SB 261, which are not superceded by the federal law. These provisions
require employers to keep detailed sharps injury logs and to establish
product evaluation committees of front-line health workers.
In November 2000, Congress unanimously passed the Needlestick Safety
and Prevention Act to obligate employers to consider safer needle
devices when they conduct their annual review of their exposure control
plan. Safer sharps are considered the best strategy for worker protection,
since they are considered appropriate engineering controls. The revised
OSHA standard also involves frontline employees in the selection of
the equipment used and purchased. The updated standard also provides
for privacy of employees who have experienced needle sticks.