Another Safety Needle Selling Opportunity from OSHA

Edition: July 2002 - Vol 10 Number 07
Article#: 1281
Author: Repertoire

You know the sharps containers with built-in needle removers? Well, they're now prohibited. Healthcare workers that draw blood in their practices must now throw away both the used safety needle attached to its plastic barrel.

In a letter of interpretation issued in June, OSHA clarified its policy that prohibits the removal of contaminated needles from blood tube holders, saying that removing a needle from a used blood-drawing/phlebotomy device is rarely, if ever, required by a medical procedure. Blood tube holders with needles attached should be immediately discarded into a sharps container after the device's safety feature has been activated.

“Removing contaminated needles can expose workers to multiple hazards,” said John Henshaw, OSHA's administrator. “We want to make it very clear that this practice is prohibited in order to protect workers from being exposed to contaminated needles.” OSHA's policy on the removal of contaminated needles is further explained in the letter of interpretation, which is available on OSHA's web site (

This is a big conversion opportunity for distributors, but don't expect customers to be happy about it. The needle-barrel combination takes up about four times the space of a needle in sharps containers. Also, instead of buying one plastic barrel and reusing it indefinitely, customers will now need to buy caseloads.

Story Contributed by: Dr. Sheila Dunn, President and CEO, Quality America, Inc., a company that specializes in OSHA compliance for medical facilities.