June 27, 2002
Other Social Issues
Question from Maryland, USA:
My 15 year old son will be going to sleep-away camp, and the nurse said OSHA regulations prevent campers from taking insulin before eating in the dining hall so injections must be done in the health suite which is approximate 10 minutes away. Since my son is taking Humalog, a quick acting insulin, what do you recommend? What are the specific OSHA regulations? Are there exceptions?
I assume your son is not be attending a diabetes camp for children, otherwise the time between the insulin injection and eating would have been taken into account. I do not think that the 10 minute time period from his injection to get to the dining hall matters much, but there may be a long line which could be crucial, especially if his blood glucose is low. Some ideas:
He could take his insulin after the meal (especially if his blood glucose is low or near normal before the meal), as long as he does not forget.
Ask if they would have a problem with his taking his insulin in the bathroom in the dining hall, if he did not dispose of the syringe there, but took it with him to a disposal container.
If his blood glucose is on the higher side (something we do not see too much of in campers), I think it is fine for him to give the injection in the health tent. Is he doing blood glucose checks in his tent and if so, can he just give the insulin in his tent and then go to the meals?
If he is not able to check his blood glucose in the tent or have others aware of his diabetes and able to use a Glucagon Emergency Kit, I would be reluctant to recommend him going.
Additional comments from David S. Holtzman, Esq.:
OSHA would not apply in this matter as the child is not an employee of the camp. The nurse maybe referring to the new OSHA regulations concerning needle-stick safety. These would have little to do with the issue at hand. What is important is that he practice safe needle handling. Make sure that when possible, he has a sharps disposal container with him at camp.
[Editor’s comment: There should be absolutely no problem with your son taking his injection and checking his blood sugar wherever he wants as long as a sharps container is provided which could even be an old coffee can that is sealed except for a small opening cut into the plastic lid. This is done all the time at diabetes camps. An alternative might be for your son to use a pen for his pre (or post) meal injections so that the needle does not have be disposed of immediately.
I would have your son’s diabetes team write out specific orders as to what needs to be done at camp. There is nothing in the OSHA regulations I know of that requires insulin injections to be done in the health unit.