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Resolutions & Amendments

34th International Convention - Philadelphia (2000)

Reducing Needlestick Injuries

Resolution No. 23
34th International Convention
June 26 - 30, 2000
Philadelphia, PA


There are an estimated 600,000 to one million needlestick injuries each year that expose health care workers to serious and even fatal diseases; and


Among those workers who sustain a needlestick injury each year, an estimated 1,000 or more contract serious diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, and as many as 40 contract HIV; and


Those injuries are experienced by a wide range of health care workers, most often nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics who work on 911 emergency ambulances, but also nursing assistants, physicians, laboratory technicians, dental hygienists, dental technicians and housekeepers and laundry workers who handle used linens and trash where needles have been inadvertently left behind; and


There is a wide variety of safer needles and other sharp devices available which would prevent injuries, yet employers who are more concerned about the cost of devices than the safety of workers have been slow to adopt their use; and


California recently became the first state to require the use of safer needles and sharps. It estimates that the law will save over $100 million per year to affected businesses and facilities as a result of savings in the testing and treatment of those injured by contaminated needles or sharps; and


While a few other states have passed laws to require safer devices or to study their use, and many more are considering such legislation, it is a national problem that must also be addressed on a national basis by Congress in order to protect as many workers as possible; and


Although the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires a combination of equipment and work practices to prevent exposure to blood and other body fluids, the standard would provide greater protection if it were revised to require safer devices and require employers to record all needlesticks and other blood exposures; and


While OSHA has initiated efforts to press employers to use safer needles and sharps, current law limits OSHA's ability to require employers to use them and does not give OSHA jurisdiction over public health care facilities in 27 states.


That AFSCME support legislation in Congress and at the state level that would reduce needlestick and sharps injuries on the job by requiring the use of safer devices in health care workplaces and in the pre-hospital environment; and


That AFSCME continue to press OSHA to use its authority to the maximum extent to encourage employers to adopt the use of safer devices; and


That in the absence of effective laws, AFSCME and its affiliates continue to push for the use of safer devices through labor-management committees, collective bargaining and other means.



Joseph Franklin, President and Delegate
Susan M. Cleary, Secretary-Treasurer and Delegate 
New Jersey