Agencies warn health care workers about hazardous drugs

April 13, 2011

Washington – Work-related exposure to hazardous drugs (.pdf file) poses a potential serious health risk for health care workers, according to an April 4 letter (.pdf file) from OSHA, NIOSH and The Joint Commission.

Without appropriate precautions, even low-level exposures to drugs for chemotherapy, antiviral treatments, hormone regiments and other applications can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, and allergic reactions, the letter said.

The letter, sent to U.S. hospitals, advised employers to:

  • Have management take a leadership role in worker safety and health
  • Offer opportunities for employees to participate in identifying and remediating hazards, developing and offering training, and evaluating the hospital’s injury and illness program