AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions


WHEREAS, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 health care workers sustain sharps and needlestick injuries every year1; and

WHEREAS, sharps and needlestick injuries expose workers to hepatitis B (HBV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C (HCV), for which there is no vaccine. As many as 133 U.S. health care workers have sustained a work-related HIV infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 800 workers sustained a work-related HBV infection in 1995 and that currently 400 health care workers annually contract an occupational hepatitis B infection. In addition, an estimated 1,120 workers are annually infected with hepatitis C associated with a work exposure. Hepatitis C infection is especially tragic because 85 percent of all HCV-infected individuals develop chronic infection and nearly 70 percent develop chronic liver disease; and

WHEREAS, one case of serious blood-borne pathogen infection can add up to $1 million or more in testing expenditures, lost-time wages and disability payments; and

WHEREAS, thousands of health care workers suffer needless psychological trauma after a needlestick injury during the months' long wait for the results of HIV and HCV serological tests, and the emotional impact of a needlestick injury can be severe and long lasting even when infection is not transmitted; and

WHEREAS, nurses and health care workers as well as other AFT members such as school nurses, health aides and special education paraprofessionals are at risk of sharps injuries (especially lancets, needles); and

WHEREAS, the use of devices with safety features, such as self-sheathing or self-blunting needles and needleless systems have been shown to measurably decrease needlestick and sharps injuries; and

WHEREAS, FNHP affiliates have taken leadership roles in the passage of groundbreaking state legislation in New Jersey, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Maryland to mandate and promote the use of safer devices:

RESOLVED, that the FNHP/AFT support the universal introduction of safer devices in all health care settings and to that end will work for the passage of federal legislation such as HR 1899 and S 1140 that will mandate the use of safer devices in all health care institutions and the involvement of workers in the evaluation and selection of devices so that health care workers as well as other exposed workers are universally protected; and

RESOLVED, that the FNHP/AFT will continue to assist affiliates in the passage of state legislation that will protect health care workers; and

RESOLVED, that the FNHP/AFT will inform and train affiliates about the issue of sharp and needlestick injuries and effective methods for evaluating and selecting safer devices.