Distributor's Role In Driving Safety Devices
the nurse or medical practitioner is using old-style sharps
devices, they may think they are getting away with something,
but they are breaking the law and leaving the practice open
to huge fines. OSHA's Safety Needle law is in effect and your
customers have to follow it.
practices that are OSHA compliant, employees who do not use
safe sharps receive written warnings. The office policy should
state, in writing, that these employees will be fired it they
do not comply with safety rules. The same applies to those
who have willfully avoided wearing gloves during phlebotomy.
It's a fact that practices that care about employee safety
have lower injury rates and better employee morale.
many instances, you as medical supply distributor are your
customers' liaison to the government, whether you wish to
be or not. They may hate the regulations, but they have to
obey them. When you let them off the hook, you do them a disservice
(like letting your kids roll around in the back seat without
painful as educating your customers sometimes is, doing so
shows that you care. Here are some of the questions Quality
America has answered on this issue that may help.
My customer has never had a needlestick. Do they need to
buy safety needles?
Yes, your customer still needs to buy safety needles, regardless
of whether they have experienced a needlestick in the past.
OSHA's law is intended to prevent future needlesticks, not
to report on past mistakes.
My customers say they have not heard of this law and think
I am making it up to increase my sales.
If your customer hasn't heard of the amended Bloodborne Pathogens
standard that requires safe sharps, they've been under a rock.
Every major newspaper and news organization on television
has reported on it. Provide written materials offered by your
company or suppliers, or direct them to the OSHA web site
at www.osha.gov. Even better, print off the regulation and
provide it to them.
My customers saw the prices for the new safety syringes
and suddenly they are reviewing all of my prices.
Safer sharps products are more expensive, but as the field
of competitive products grows, the price, like for most commodity
items, will drop. Until then, review the options that your
company sells and offer your customer alternatives. Advise
them of the other value-added services that your company provides
to them. And remind them of the long-term savings they will
experience using safe sharps, versus the expense of dealing
with a needlestick and its aftermath.
If OSHA inspects an office will they give a warning over
OSHA does not issue warnings. If they cite deficiencies, they
are always going to impose a monetary fine.
My customer looked at safety needles and found they were
too expensive. Can they use that decision not to change in
their evaluation protocol?
No, OSHA will not accept any decision that is based on monetary
considerations. Preventing needlesticks and other sharps injuries
is OSHA's top priority.
selling is not just holding out a pretty widget or quoting
a price, it is education-both your own and your customers.
Don't duck their questions; educate your customers. Remind
them that you care!
Several States Extend Needlestick Compliance Deadline
Changes in OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen standard requiring safe
sharps became effective April 18, 2001, but OSHA gave a 90-day
outreach and education extension before enforcing the new
rules as of July 17, 2001.
further confuse the issue, medical facilities in states with
OSHA-approved state plans had until October 18, 2001 to comply.
OSHA encourages states to develop and operate their own job
safety and health plans and OSHA approves and monitors the
plans. Virtually every state with its own OSHA plan is identical
to the federal OSHA statutes. There are currently 24 states
operating state plans. These states had until October 18,
2001 to fully implement safety sharps:
Arkansas - Arizona - California - Connecticut* - Hawaii -
Indiana - Iowa - Kentucky - Maryland - Michigan - Minnesota
- Nevada - New Jersey* - New Mexico - New York* - North Carolina
- Oregon - South Carolina - Tennessee - Utah - Vermont - Virginia
- Washington - Wyoming
plan applies to public employees only.