Occupational health practitioners are being urged to get involved in a major consultation on proposed new Regulations to protect healthcare workers from sharps injuries.
The consultation, which was launched in August by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), runs until 8 November 2012.
The consultation will gauge feelings towards the HSE's proposed Health & Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013, which are being introduced to ensure UK compliance with a European Council Directive (2010/32/E) on sharps injuries.
The Regulations, the HSE has emphasised, are building on existing legislation in this area.
Key proposed changes include the need for employers - in cases where it is not reasonably practicable to avoid the use of medical sharps - to:
- use "safe sharp" devices where reasonably practicable;
- prevent the recapping of needles;
- place secure containers and instructions for safe disposal of medical sharps close to the work area;
- review procedures regularly; and
- provide information and training to staff.
The Regulations also require employers to work with safety representatives in developing and promoting the information to be given to workers.
Where there has been a sharps accident or injury, employers will need to ensure that injured workers report the injury to the employer and provide information about the circumstances.
The HSE's intention is that the latest date for implementation, as specified in the Directive, is 11 May 2013 so this will be the proposed date for the new Regulations to kick in. HSE guidance will be published 12 weeks before this, on 15 February.
Any OH practitioners wishing to contribute to the consultation can complete an online questionnaire or submit their views by email to or respond in writing to Martin Dilworth, Health and Safety Executive, 5S2 Redgrave Court, Merton Road, Bootle, Merseyside, L20 7HS.