- OSHA Healthcare Advisor - http://blogs.hcpro.com/osha -

Ask the expert: Pardon my exclamation, but DON’T REMOVE DIRTY NEEDLES!

Q: It has been standard procedure in our small medical practice to remove contaminated needles from the syringes to save space in the sharps container. I am concerned that this will significantly increase my potential risk of a “dirty” stick. Is this a legal practice? What can I do to reduce my risks, without losing my job?

A: This is absolutely illegal. Let me put it another way…THIS IS ABSOLUTELY ILLEGAL!

It says so in the Bloodborne Pathogens standard section (d)(2)(vii) [1]: “Contaminated needles and other contaminated sharps shall not be bent, recapped, or removed…”

Please inform your employer that this violation of the OSHA standard could not only injure staff members but also cost it as much as $7,000 as a serious fine, as classified by OSHA.

If your employer continues this practice, it could become a willful fine, which ups the ante to $70,000.

Since you just saved your practice $70,000, a smart employer would thank you rather than fire you, which in itself could be a violation of the federal Whistleblower protection section of the OSH Act [2], which “prohibits any person from discharging or in any manner retaliating against any employee because the employee has exercised rights under the Act.”

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comment section below.