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Workers need continued protection against ‘sharps’

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has published details of its response to a HSE consultation over a changes to ‘sharps’ regulations.

In its response, IOSH highlighted the need for people in all professions to continue to be protected when working with sharp medical instruments, and warned the regulator against excluding non-medical workers from the regulations.

Injuries to workers from needles, scalpel blades and other sharp instruments – collectively known as medical sharps – have to be prevented, says IOSH. They can lead to exposure to blood-borne viruses and serious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, from instruments contaminated with patients’ blood or other bodily fluids.

It is possible to change to safer practices by identifying procedures that do not require sharps use at all. Alternative ‘needleless’ medical equipment or equipment that incorporates protection is available. Research shows that where an appropriate alternative is selected and staff are trained in its use, injury risk is reduced.

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