SACRAMENTO, CA. — Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) today announced that Governor Jerry Brown has signed AB 1202, legislation to establish workplace safety practices for the safe handling of chemotherapy drugs. AB 1202 takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.
“The very drugs that save the lives of cancer patients put the healthcare workers who administer them in danger, posing potentially severe health risks,” Skinner said. “Establishing safety standards will protect the nurses and pharmacists who handle these drugs.”
A 1999 study found that workers who handle these toxic drugs have an increased risk of infertility and miscarriages. There is also a correlation between handling chemotherapy drugs and an increased risk of breast, thyroid, nervous system and brain cancers.
“I thank Governor Brown for seeing the need for this important legislation. Exposing our healthcare workers to hazardous drugs when there are recommended safety protocols available is simply unacceptable. AB 1202 will help limit these workers’ exposure by imposing new safe-handling requirements,” Skinner continued.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 million healthcare workers are exposed to more than 150 hazardous drugs each year. In response, NIOSH has developed recommendations on safe handling, including training on how to prepare and administer hazardous drugs, requiring ventilated cabinets, needleless systems and closed-system drug transfer devices to minimize exposure.
AB 1202 will direct the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to implement the NIOSH recommendations, which are currently followed on a voluntary basis.
“We commend Assemblymember Skinner, who has been a longtime advocate for worker safety, for introducing AB 1202 and Governor Brown for signing the legislation. Pharmacists from throughout California are dedicated to helping those who are ill, but in doing so many are exposed to hazardous drugs on a near-daily basis. AB 1202 will bring needed safety improvements to our workplace and ensure that those who work in hospitals are not needlessly exposed to these toxic drugs,” said Brian Warren, Government Affairs Director of the California Pharmacists Association.
AB 1202 has garnered support from a wide range of healthcare industry advocates and labor representatives. The California Nurses Association, California Labor Federation, California Association of Professional Firefighters and the California Healthcare Institute have all voiced their support for this much-needed legislation.
AB 1202 Fact Sheet
Elected in 2008, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) represents the 15th Assembly District, which includes Hercules, Pinole, El Sobrante, San Pablo, Richmond, El Cerrito, Kensington, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont and parts of Oakland. Skinner serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee.