Ask the expert: Scalpel blade removal
Q: If our facility does not use disposable safety scalpels, is it okay to remove the blade by hand?
A: Removing scalpel blades is noncompliant unless “the employer can demonstrate that no alternative is feasible or that such action is required by a specific medical or dental procedure,” according to the November 21, 2008, interpretation letter “OSHA’s position on the use of fingers or a two-handed procedure with a hemostat to remove scalpel blades.” In short, you should be using safety scalpels.
If there is a documented medical necessity, “blade removal must be accomplished through the use of a mechanical device or a one-handed technique,” explains the letter.
Citations involving the unnecessary capping, bending, or removal of needles and sharps in medical practices average $1,300, according to an OSHA report appearing in the September issue of Medical Environment Update.
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