|The National Health Service (NHS)
Confederation has issued new regulations designed to guide NHS employers and
staff of European Union (EU) nations in the safe use and disposal of sharp
medical devices. The regulations—which apply to all public and private
employers, employees, and contractors in the EU healthcare sector—took
effect May 11.
Even if medical staff do not acquire infection from an
unintentional needle stick, “sharps injuries” cause “stress and
psychological trauma” for staff and can result in work restrictions and
lifestyle changes. Sharps injuries also can result in transmission of HIV or
hepatitis. The Health Protection Agency reported that sharps injuries
comprised 17 percent of healthcare workers’ injuries. Occupational exposure
accounted for 17 HCV cases between 1996 and 2009.
Elisabetta Zanon, director of the NHS European Office,
stated that employers’ organizations, the NHS European Office, the Health
and Safety Executive, and trade unions collaborated closely to develop
workable, sensible regulations. The rules address training and employee
information and aim to minimize harm and prevent injuries in the field
through the safe use and disposal of sharps.
The full regulations, “Guide to the Proposed Safety,
Health, and Welfare at Work (Prevention of Sharps Injuries in the Healthcare
Sector) Regulations, 2013,” are available