How to prevent sharps and needle stick injuries
Many workers, especially in the healthcare and cleaning industries face a daily risk of injury from sharps, including needles. If such injuries are a hazard in your workplace, then you should read on.
What are the dangers?
Contact with syringes, broken glass or any other sharp implement may cause a penetrating injury, which is dangerous on its own.
In addition it may also expose workers to blood or fluids, containing dangerous micro-organisms which pose a grave, potentially lethal risk of contracting viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and many others.
Be aware – Syringes and other sharps maybe hidden – often amongst rubbish and linen.
What Employers should do to prevent sharps and needle injuries
Because the risk of contracting a disease may be high, even at very small exposures, employers will need to make sure they have a comprehensive sharps injury prevention approach, in line with the hierarchy of controls:
- Eliminate the use of needle devices whenever safe and effective.
- Isolate the hazard by using approved sharps disposal containers with injury prevention features.
- Implement Safe Work Practices – Have policies and procedures in place, designed to minimise risk exposure
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – PPE such as gloves etc should be used as the last control approach, where appropriate.
Without training, none of your other efforts to eliminate or minimise the hazard will have much effect and the risk exposure to your workers remain high. (As does your legal exposure as an employer)
The combination of strong systems and a solid induction training program will have a large effect on the probability of an accident happening. Employees learn the right way of doing things from the beginning, minimising the risk of mistakes, whilst increasing overall awareness.
Wouldn’t it be great if your new recruits could come in on the first day already trained? For a lot of organisations, TANDI online induction training has proven to be the safest and most economical way to manage their new employee induction training.
TANDI also recognises that risk and hazards are often different, depending on the industry and job type. To assist with this, we have developed an online course library of specific induction training modules for different industries / job types.
If you engage cleaners and /or health workers, they should complete their respective TANDI’s industry specific module, which includes training on:
- The threat of sharps
- Rules of sharps safety
- How to handle / dispose of sharps safely
- What to do in case of a sharps / needle stick injury
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