The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act and SimpleCAP

Dental health care providers are very familiar with OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, (29CFR 1910.1030), and the tenants of the standard are implemented each day in practice to ensure dental healthcare worker safety and compliance.  The standard’s requirements provide what employers must do to protect workers who are occupationally exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), as defined in the standard. That is, the standard protects workers who can reasonably be anticipated to come into contact with blood or OPIM as a result of doing their job duties.[1]   OSHA published the final bloodborne pathogens standard in 1991 in response to the significant health risk associated with occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials; at that time, nearly six million workers in health care and related occupations faced exposure to bloodborne diseases.[2]  

While the standard is commonplace in healthcare, many may be unaware that the standard was modified in 2000 with the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (NSPA).  The NSPA was signed into law on November 6, 2000 because occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens from accidental sharps injuries in healthcare and other occupational settings continued to be a serious problem.  Congress felt that a modification to OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard was appropriate to set forth in greater detail (and make more specific) OSHA's requirement for employers to identify, evaluate, and implement safer medical devices. The NSPA also mandated additional requirements for maintaining a sharps injury log and for the involvement of non-managerial healthcare workers in evaluating and choosing devices.[3]  

One of the main points of the NSPA was to more clearly define engineering controls used in healthcare as "controls (e.g., sharps disposal containers, self-sheathing needles, safer medical devices, such as sharps with engineered sharps injury protections and needleless systems) that isolate or remove the bloodborne pathogens hazard from the workplace"[3] and required employers to 1) conduct an annual trial and implementation of appropriate engineering controls, and (2) solicit non-managerial healthcare workers in evaluating and choosing devices to be trialed.[3]

In general, for dentistry, there is not an abundance of safer sharps devices on the market, however, when one becomes available, OSHA states, if you have not already evaluated and implemented appropriate and available engineering controls, you must do so now.[3]

Enter SimpleCAP! SimpleCAP is the only dental safety needle on the market with a built-in sheath to protect the dental healthcare worker and reduce the risk of needlestick injury. SimpleCAP meets OSHA’s definition of a safer sharp engineering control and is the perfect device for your annual sharp safety evaluation. 


  1. US Department of Labor. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Fact Sheet.

  1. US Department of Labor. Occupational Health and Safety Administration.,faced%20exposure%20to%20bloodborne%20diseases

  1. US Department of Labor. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Frequently asked questions.

Updated on

December 18, 2020

Authored by:

Dr. Kathy Schrubbe | Dir. of OSHA and infection control

Katherine Schrubbe BSDH MEd PhD is an adjunct professor at Marquette University School of Dentistry and Director of Quality Assurance for Dental Associates. With 30+ years in dental education Schrubbe is a regular speaker of continuing education courses on infection control and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. She was the 2003 recipient of the American Association of Dental Research William B. Clark Award for Clinical Research.