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Consultation opens on medical sharps regulation

New regulations protecting healthcare workers from injuries caused by sharp medical instruments have been proposed.

Workplace health and safety regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has opened a three-month long consultation on the new regulations, which will require employers to have “effective arrangements” for the safe use and disposal of medical sharps.

Employers will also be responsible for providing healthcare workers with the “necessary” information and training and investigating and following up on any work-related sharps injury.

Under the proposed plans, employees in the healthcare sector will be duty-bound to report a work-related sharps injury to their employer.

It is estimated one million needlestick injuries occur in the European Union each year, with more than 100,000 occurring each year in the UK alone.

While the regulator has recognised many healthcare employers have already implemented good practice guidance to control the risk of sharps injuries, it is claimed the new regulations are needed to implement a European Directive.

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said the college had played a “key role” in asking for the EU Directive and has welcomed the HSE's consultation.

“The RCN will be responding to the consultation in full and will be using a wealth of evidence to show the seriousness of this issue and the benefits to employers if they protect their staff,” he said.

“We trust that the regulations will then be implemented as soon as possible so that nursing and other health staff cease to be at risk.”

The consultation will run until 8 November 2012.


What is your view on the new regulations?