The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Joint Commission have sent a letter to hospitals throughout the country. It reminds employers that hazardous drugs such as antineoplastic drugs can pose serious job-related health risks to workers.
"Every day in health care settings across America, workers are exposed to hundreds of powerful drugs used for cancer chemotherapy, antiviral treatments, hormone regimens and other therapies," the letter begins. "Some of these drugs have been known to cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, allergic reactions, and other adverse effects that can be irreversible even after low-level exposures."
The agencies say the substances that present potential health hazards to workers should be included in an employer's hazard communication program and it should be readily available and accessible to all affected workers -- including temporary workers, contractors, and trainees.
The letter encourages employers to address safe drug handling by:
- Committing management staff to taking a leadership role in worker safety and health.
- Offering opportunities for meaningful employee participation in the efforts to identify and remediate hazards, develop and offer training, and evaluate the injury and illness prevention program for continuous improvement.
NIOSH has updated its list of antineoplastic and other hazardous drugs in health care settings. The updated list is part of an earlier NIOSH Alert on Preventing Occupational Exposure to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings, which provides guidance on protecting workers from hazardous exposures to the medications.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
May 2, 2011
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