WASHINGTON — The House today passed legislation requiring the government to warn workers exposed to hazardous substances, including hospital employees who deal with AIDS patients, about their chances of getting cancer and other diseases.
Democrats prevailed on a 225-186 vote, largely along party lines, for legislation to set up a program in the Department of Health and Human Services to determine which workers are most at risk and then notify them.
Republicans, however, succeeded in attaching an amendment by Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) that would designate between 3 million and 4 million health care providers as "high-risk" workers because they may deal with AIDS patients during their careers.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Joseph M. Gaydos (D-Pa.), had urged defeat of Dannemeyer's amendment. Gaydos said there is little evidence that health-care workers are threatened by the blood-borne virus if they take proper precautions such as wearing gloves when they face contact with bodily fluids of AIDs victims.
House leaders had said earlier that final action on the bill would be delayed until next week.
But after Dannemeyer's amendment passed, Republican opponents withdrew a series of other amendments aimed at weakening the measure.