New sharps regulations come into force

New regulations to control the risks posed by needles and other sharps in healthcare came into ­effect last month.

The Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations came into force on 11 May, with Northern Ireland introducing equivalent regulations on the same date.

They mean employers and contractors working in the healthcare sector will be required to:



  • have effective arrangements for the safe use and disposal of sharps, including ­using “safer sharps” where reasonably practicable, restricting the practice of recapping needles and placing sharps bins close to the point of use;
  • provide the necessary information and training to workers; and
  • investigate and take action in ­response to work-related sharps injuries.

The Heath and Safety Executive has issued guidance for healthcare employers and employees on the change.

In April, a study published in ­Occupational Medicine found that those who experience needlestick injuries can suffer persistent and substantial psychiatric illness or depression (Occupational Health, vol.65, p.5).

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