As we approach World Day for Safety and Health at Work, it’s a good opportunity to focus on a workplace injury that is largely preventable. The European Agency of Occupational Safety and Health estimates that 1 million needlestick injuries occur every year. Sharps injuries can happen when needles are improperly or carelessly disposed of, instead of being placed in sealed sharps containers.
According to NHS Resolution between 2012 – 2017 there were 1,833 incident claims for needlestick injuries and the cost to the NHS is equivalent to 125 band 5 nurses for one year. There are legal requirements on employers to take steps to prevent healthcare staff being exposed to infectious agents from sharps injuries.
A needlestick injury can be avoided by following simple guidelines and recognising that appropriate waste segregation is vital to the safety of staff, patients and any persons in contact in a health or social services where sharps are used.
Our Senior Bio-Systems Business Manager Amie Marsh has put together some top tips for reducing the risk of receiving a sharps injury:
- Ensure sharps containers are assembled correctly
- The colour of the lid should match the colour of the base label. The lid should be securely attached as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Sharps containers should be located at the point of patient care This is to ensure staff can dispose of the sharp safely and immediately after use, directly into the sharps container. Staff should not carry around any used sharps away from the point of patient care.
- Temporary closure activated When not in use, the temporary closure on the disposable sharps unit should be selected to ensure the container is secure whilst in situ.
- Sharps waste only Only sharps waste should be disposed of in the sharps containers. For non-sharps waste select the appropriate bagged waste stream.
- Permanently lock when full Once contents are at the fill line (usually three quarters full) the container must be permanently locked and disposed of. DO NOT overfill a sharps container, this can lead to an increased risk of sharps injury and the spread of infection.
- Use the handle When carrying a sharps container, always use the handle.
- Dispose of containers safely Sharps should be disposed of safely into a sharps container with the sharp-end disposed of first and always facing away from you.
To find out how we can help you reduce sharps related injuries in your facility, contact a member of our specialist team today.