According to IOSH, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, health and safety procedures regarding sharp objects are not just relevant to workers who are in the medical industry. IOSH is the committee within the UK for health and safety professionals and the largest health and safety organisation in the world. They have announced recently that Sharps regulations should cover all workers who use any sharp objects or tools in their daily working environment.
The announcement was made in response to a consultation by the Health and Safety Executive. IOSH warned that excluding all non-medical workers from SHARPS regulations would be a dangerous move. These health and safety regulations are now currently under review.
Workers in the medical profession and any other workplace which involves sharp materials are in danger of injury. These harmful materials can include blades, needles and other sharp instruments. Not only can these objects cause damage, but they can also increase the risk of exposure to blood-borne viruses. Sharps injuries can leave the victim susceptible to serious illnesses such as AIDS and HIV, as well as Hepatitis C. This is especially dangerous in the medical profession where the instruments can carry traces of blood or other bodily fluids from patients who might be carrying these diseases. According to a survey of NHS staff, 2% reported that they had experience a needle stick within the previous year.
Many hospitals and health care facilities are attempting to reduce the risks by changing to less risky practices and developing new procedures which do not require sharps to be used at all. If needleless equipment or equipment which incorporates protection can be used in a medical context, this will remove the risk of injury and therefore show that the ‘sharps’ regulations have worked in protecting workers.
According to Richard Jones, the Head of Policy and Public Affairs, all workers who are potentially at risk for injury from sharp objects on the job should receive health and safety training and be subject to the regulations; not just healthcare and hospital workers. He also proposed the option that the existing safety regulations be altered to achieve this inclusion.