Handling Hazardous Drugs
Hospital and health care workers are reminded that hazardous drugs can pose serious job-related risks to workers if proper precautions are not used in handling drugs. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Joint Committee recently highlighted the need for safe practices in a letter to U.S. hospitals.
Drugs used for chemotherapy, antiviral treatments, hormone regimens, and other applications have the potential for serious adverse occupational health effects, the agencies said. Irreversible effects from work-related exposures: even at low levels: without taking appropriate precautions, can include cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, allergic reactions, and others.
Substances that present a potential health hazard to workers must be included in an employer’s hazard communications program, noted OSHA, and it should be readily available to all, including temporary workers, contractors, and trainees.
The letter encourages hospital employers to:
Commit their management staffs to taking a leadership role in worker safety and health
Offer opportunities for meaningful employee participation in efforts to identify and remediate hazards, develop and offer training, and evaluate the hospital’s injury and illness program for continuous improvement.
For more information on hazardous drug safety and health: www.osha.gov/SLTC/hazardousdrugs/
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