Ontario Clinics Gear Up for Needle Safety Changes

On July 1, clinics, community nursing agencies, public health units, and doctors' and dentists' offices must comply with Ontario's Needle Safety Regulation.

The Ontario Safety Association for Community & Healthcare (OSACH) has started an educational series to help personnel working in clinics, community nursing agencies, and public health units prepare for the expansion of Ontario's Needle Safety Regulation. Starting July 1, it applies to community work environments (including doctors' and dentists' offices) where workers use hollow-bore needles on patients for therapeutic, preventive, palliative, diagnostic, or cosmetic purposes. The sessions began Feb. 5 and will continue until March 10.

OSACH is a non-profit corporation that serves more than 6,500 clients in nursing homes, hospitals, home care, group homes, treatment clinics, and professional offices and agencies. On Jan. 1, 2010, it joined forces with the Education Safety Association of Ontario and the Municipal Health & Safety Association to form the Health & Safety Association for Government Services.

The Needle Safety Regulation, part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, was passed in 2007. The educational sessions are teaching participants the definitions of safety-engineered medical sharps and safety-engineered needles, discussing statistics and research related to sharps and injuries, and explaining how to implement a safe sharps program.

Other workplaces covered by the act beginning July 1 are home care services, ambulance services, student health programs in schools, and health care/first aid services to workers or individuals in industrial and other workplaces. The employers must give workers a safety-engineered needle for work that requires the use of a hollow-bore needle. Employers also are to conduct a risk assessment on the use of hollow-bore needles in the workplace and document their findings.

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