Sharps Injury Prevention
The safe use, and disposal, of sharps is one of the most critical health and safety issues registered nurses will face in the workplace. According to research carried out by the American Nurses Association (ANA), about a third of nurses feel sharps injuries and blood-borne pathogens present a significant level of risk in their work environment. Thirteen per cent have sustained at least one sharps injury within the last five years.
The numbers are certainly staggering - according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 385,000 sharps-related injuries occur annually among health care workers in hospitals, but it has been estimated that as many as half of injuries go unreported.
While the majority of sharps injuries involve nursing staff; laboratory staff, physicians, housekeepers, and other health care workers can also be at risk and need protection. ANA is working to reduce those risks through education and legislation: arming health care professionals with the guidelines and resources to prevent injuries; and their employers with the ability to create workplace environments where they can do so.
To help nurses mitigate the risks of sharp-related injuries, we have compiled a list of online best-practices and advice on raising the profile of sharps safety in the workplace:
- New! Moving the Sharps Safety in Healthcare Agenda Forward in the United States: 2020 Consensus Statement and Call to Action from the International Safety Center. It includes data on rates of injury and circumstances surrounding sharps injuries, an outline of the requirements of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, a list of facility-based measures and controls for injury and exposure prevention, and much more.
- International Safety Center
The Center provides tools and expertise needed to reduce exposures to contaminated sharps, and blood and body fluids. This includes EPINet, a free standardized system used to track sharp object injuries and body fluid incidents.
- FDA, NIOSH and OSHA Joint Safety Communication: Blunt-Tip Surgical Suture Needles
A joint safety communication from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), strongly recommending the use of blunt-tip surgical suture needles when suturing fascia and muscle.
- Emergency Sharps Information
Best-practice guidelines from the CDC around what to do when a sharps-injury incident occurs in the workplace.
- Workbook for Designing, Implementing and Evaluating a Sharps Injury Prevention Program
A detailed CDC guide to building, and monitoring, a successful sharps injury prevention program.
- Stop Sticks Campaign
Home page of the NIOSH “Stop Sticks” project, featuring resources designed to help organizations set-up a sharps safety awareness campaign.
- Safely Using Sharps (Needles and Syringes) at Home, at Work and on Travel
Official guidance from the FDA on safe usage, and disposal, of sharps in a non-health care facility setting.
At the present time, the most up-to-date federal law relating to sharps practice is the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act/Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, enacted by the 106th Congress. ANA has released a series of position statements relating to sharps, and have outlined where we see that existing legislation can be improved.
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