Safety On Point - Safety Legislation

Among clinicians, healthcare workers and staff, accidents involving "medical sharps" occur frequently, at an estimated rate of 3.5 million incidents per year worldwide. Many of these cases can be attributed to mishaps wih IV catheters, hypodermic needles, blood collection devices and vascular access needles.

A needlestick injury or case of blood exposure can devastate the healthcare institution, the practice and the victim, who needs to be tested for possible transmission of blood-borne infection. For a victim who contracts an infection or a disease, there is medical care and even the prospect of long-term health consequences.

Taking measures to avoid needlestick and blood exposure is the best defense, and it makes good sense.

Safety On Point


In Canada, occupational safety and health programs are organized and administered at the provincial level.


The Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code (2009) specifies that as of July 1, 2010 employers must ensure that a worker's exposure to bloodborne pathogens is controlled. The employer must provide safety-engineered medical sharps and ensure they are used for appropriate use cases.

British Columbia

British Columbia law under the Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) requires that any medical procedure that involves the use of a medical sharp requires that a safety engineered sharp device be used.


Ontario Regulation 474/07 covers the use of safety-engineered needles, specifically of hollow-bore needles and needleless devices. The regulation demands that employers provide safety engineered devices that are appropriate for the work, and that employees use them.

Bill 179 2005 "Safe Needles Save Lives Act" expands on the law, and requires that employers select devices that reduces to the greatest extent possible the likelihood of accidental injury, provide such devices, and that employees use them.

It requires the employer to train employees and provide information on the following:

risks associated with accidental parenteral contact with medical sharps;
safety-engineered medical sharps and their use;
workplace practices to reduce the risk of accidental parenteral contact with medical sharps; and
any other information relevant to the reduction of accidental parenteral contact with medical sharps.


S.M. 2005, c. 15, the “Workplace Safety and Health Amendment Act (Needles in Medical Workplaces)”, requires that when hollow-bore or intravenous needles are used in a medical workplace, the employer must ensure that workers use only safety-engineered needles and that safe work procedures and practices for medical sharps are in place, including when an injury does occur. This includes investigating and preparing a report on the needlestick injury.

Helpful Links/Guidance:

Safer Work Places

Ontario Safety Association for Community & Healthcare (OSACH) Safety Engineered Medical Sharps (SEMS)


North America




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