Environmental Health & Safety
Hazards From Breakage of Glass Capillary Tubes
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently joined together to issued a warning regarding the health and safety dangers associated with accidental breakage of glass capillary tubes. Such tubes are used for collection of blood in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, physicians offices, blood donation facilities, and blood testing centers.
Accidental breakage of capillary tubes has been reported when the tubes are inserted into putty used for sealing and during centrifugation. Blood can splatter on mucous membranes and broken glass fragments can pierce skin resulting in personnel exposure to bloodborne pathogens. According to OSHA, FDA, and NIOSH, one such documented injury has resulted in the transmission of HIV to a physician who has since died of AIDS.
To reduce the risk of injury, OSHA, FDA, and NIOSH recommend that users consider
blood collection devices less prone to accidental breakage, including:
- Capillary tubes that are not made of glass,
- Glass capillary tubes wrapped in puncture-resistant film,
- Products that use a method of sealing that does not require pushing one end
of the tube into putty to form a plug, or
- Products that allow the blood hematocrit to be measured without
Remember: If an injury occurs resulting in a potential blood or body fluid exposure, post exposure follow-up is available through University Health Service (x5-1164).
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This page last updated 11/24/2010. Disclaimer.