Occupational Health News Roundup

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, which was passed in response to the problem of healthcare workers being exposed to bloodborne pathogens (HIV, hepatitis, etc.) via sharps injuries. The Act directed OSHA to modify its existing bloodborne pathogen standard to require that employers update their exposure control plans to reflect advances in technology (e.g., needleless systems and sharps with injury protection); maintain sharps injury logs; and solicit input from non-managerial employees potentially exposed to contaminated sharps. (View the current bloodborne pathogen standard.)

In Infection Control Today, Kelly M. Pyrek reports on progress since the act's passage -- and how far we still have to go on preventing sharps-related injuries:

One might expect that the NSPA significantly contributed to the reduction of sharps-related injuries in the healthcare setting, and it has, at least judging by a cursory look at data from the EPINet Sharps Injury and Blood and Body Fluid Exposure Surveillance Network. In 2001, a total of 1,929 percutaneous injuries (PIs) were reported by network facilities; in 2007, the year for which the most current data is available, in 2007, a total of 951 PIs were reported. While any reduction in PIs is considered to be a victory, healthcare professionals are urged not to become complacent about the approximately 1,000 sharps-related injuries that occur every day and the numerous ones that are not reported. In a 2008 study of 700 nurses' views on workplace safety conducted by the American Nurses Association (ANA), nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents say needlestick injuries and bloodborne infections remain major concerns, and 55 percent believe their workplace safety climate negatively impacts their own personal safety.

In other news:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration: OSHA is encouraging retailers to plan for crowd management during Black Friday sales. In 2008, a worker was trampled to death by shoppers. (OSHA's press release doesn't give specifics on the tragedy, but the worker was 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour, and he was killed at the Valley Stream, NY Wal-Mart.)

New York Times: Journalist Oleg Kashin is hospitalized in Moscow with a concussion, fractures in both legs, a broken jaw, and broken fingers after an attack that his editor said was probably connected to Kashin's work covering youth political movements and protests.

High Country News: Farmworkers labor under difficult conditions, but in most states they don't get the same protections guaranteed to other workers, like workers' compensation coverage and the right to form unions.

International Labour Organization: Fifteen government, employer, and worker experts have adopted a draft Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Agriculture, which will be submitted to the ILO Governing Body for endorsement in March 2011.

Washington Post: Improvements in treating hemorrhages - many of them over the last nine years - have helped veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan survive.

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