WorkSafeBC replies

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 50, No. 3, April 2008, Page 125 Letters

We have replied directly, at greater length, to Dr Haw­kins and would like to clarify these issues for all BCMJ readers:

1. This regulation applies to the vast majority of GPs in BC. If you’re an employer with staff, you’re re­quired to register with WorkSafeBC and thus must follow the regulation. It also applies if you’re a salaried employee or a worker in your own corporation. The regulation doesn’t apply in fairly narrow circumstances, such as when you have a sole proprietorship and/or have no staff who could be exposed to needles. If you’re in doubt about your status, contact WorkSafe­BC’s Assessment Department at 604 244-6181 (toll free 1 888 922-2768).

2. Currently, the new needles cost two to five times more than the old needles. Health regions have built the additional costs into their budgets. We will forward the question about compensation to the BCMA. WorkSafeBC doesn’t cover the cost of needles unless they’re a tray fee item for a worker with an accepted claim from WorkSafeBC.

3. Occupational health and safety regulations are determined by each provincial or territorial jurisdiction across Canada. Several provinces have regulations requiring safety needles in health care institutions. BC and Manitoba have extended these re­quirements to physicians’ offices. 

4. WorkSafeBC is working with suppliers of pre-filled syringe/needle medications to resolve this issue. Suppliers have responsibilities under BC’s Workers Compensation Act to provide devices that are safe and meet regulations. In the meantime, make sure you have appropriate procedures in place to use these needles and have a plan to ensure compliance with the new regulations as soon as the new needles are available.

For more information, read the WorkSafeBC page in the January/February 2008 issue of BCMJ or call WorkSafeBC’s Industry and Labour Services Department toll free at 1 888 621-7233.

—Peter Rothfels, MD
Director, Clinical Services and Chief Medical Officer

Peter Rothfels, MD. WorkSafeBC replies. BCMJ, Vol. 50, No. 3, April, 2008, Page(s) 125 - Letters.

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