Apr 13, 201103:44 PMBlog

Governor signs bill giving health care workers more protection

Apr 13, 2011 - 03:44 PM
One of the long-standing ironies in the health industry has been that the chemotherapy drugs that cancer patients and others depend upon for treatment can harm the medical providers caring for them.

Today, Washington became the first state in the nation to require protection for these health care workers when Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law Senate Bill 5594, which directs the Department of Labor & Industries to adopt requirements for the handling of chemotherapy and other hazardous drugs.
The same properties that enable chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells can also damage normal cells in healthy workers. Without precautions being taken, such as proper ventilation or protective equipment, the preparation, administration and even the disposal of these drugs exposes hundreds of thousands of workers to potentially harmful levels of the chemicals involved.

Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health suggest precautions when handling these hazardous drugs, but Washington will be the first state in the nation that says health care employers must take these precautions.

The bill requires L&I to adopt rules consistent with NIOSH provisions adopted in its 2004 alert on preventing exposures to these drugs, and the 2010 update of that same alert. L&I will now establish a stakeholder group and develop this rule.


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