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August 13, 2012

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HSE invites comments on sharps legislation

The HSE has opened a consultation period on proposed legislation to protect health-care workers from sharps injuries.

The new regulations are provisionally titled the Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 and are required under European Council Directive 2010/32/EU. EU ministers passed the directive in 2010 to help protect health-care workers from injuries and infections associated with coming into contact with sharp objects, such as needle-sticks.
The regulations will require employers in the health-care sector to introduce arrangements for the safe use and disposal of medical sharps. They will also be expected to provide information and training for employees, and record and investigate any sharps injuries.

The consultation is seeking views on whether the proposed regulations enable health-care businesses and workers to identify what they need to do to comply. It also offers an initial assessment of the costs and benefits of the proposed changes. Views are also being sought on how the regulations should be supported by guidance, and who is best placed to provide this guidance.

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Dr Pter Carter believes the legislation will play a vital role in protecting health-care workers. He said: “Nurses and health care assistants continue to be at risk in the workplace from sharps injuries which should be prevented.

“Nobody should go to work fearing that they could be exposed to serious infections such as hepatitis and HIV simply because steps haven’t been taken to avoid preventable accidents.”

In order to participate in the consultation, you can either download a form and return it to the HSE, or complete an online survey. The closing date for comments is 8 November 2012.

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11 years ago

Pity it is so single focussed. A similar risk exists for our police and fire services. Also to council staff clearing voided properties and for refuse type local authority workers where there are often discarded sharps within rubbish.
We do not need an EU directive to act. It would be good if the regulations were extended to “any persons likely to come in to contact with medical sharps” within their work activity.

then again sharps exist in many industries. What about Vets etc?

11 years ago

Indeed Phil, sharps are also a problem in the railway industry where discarded needles are found on trains, stations and railway cuttings. Most of these have been discarded without malice, exception being under seats on trains where a train driver or maintenance worker might come into contact with the needle.

Sharps are also a problem in social housing where needles can be left by the occupants in places where they will catch out the unwary ie under light switches!