New regulations to control the risks posed by needles and other ‘sharps’ in healthcare will take effect this month. The Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations will come into force on 11 May 2013. Northern Ireland will introduce equivalent regulations on the same date.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is introducing the new regulations to implement a European Directive. They will supplement the existing health and safety legislation that already requires employers across all sectors to take effective action to control the risk from sharps injuries.
Employers and contractors working in the healthcare sector will be required to:
- Have effective arrangements for the safe use and disposal (including using ‘safer sharps’ where reasonably practicable, restricting the practice of recapping of needles and placing sharps bins close to the point of use)
- Provide the necessary information and training to workers
- Investigate and take action in response to work related sharps injuries