LETTER Bill to Protect Health Care Personnel Who Work With Chemo Drugs

Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors to protect healthcare personnel who handle hazardous chemotherapy drugs today received Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee approval.

The bill (A-837), the “Hazardous Drug Safe Handling Act,” requires the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) to establish rules and regulations for the safe handling of chemotherapy drugs by health care personnel in a health care setting or an animal or veterinary facility. This includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists, operating room staff, shipping, receiving and laundry workers and waste handlers.

“The development and use of chemotherapy has exploded since it was first used in the 1940s. Treatment often consists of a combination of chemo drugs, which are very potent,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “These powerful drugs may expose workers to a number of serious short-term and chronic effects. While providing potentially lifesaving medicine and comfort to cancer patients is very rewarding, it can be emotionally stressful. Health care professionals don’t need the added burden of worrying about adverse effects from the drugs they are administering. They deserve a safe work environment.”

The regulations will provide guidelines on necessary precautions and controls to eliminate or minimize exposure; use of protective equipment; safe handling practices, including handling, receiving, storage, preparing, administering, waste handling, cleaning, housekeeping, labeling and signage, and spill control and response procedures. Employers will also be required to provide hazardous drugs training to all employees who have or are likely to have occupational exposure to hazardous drugs.