Safe Sharps Directive Coming to UK

All EU member states face a May 2013 deadline to implement a directive spelling out how to assess risks of sharps injuries and implement appropriate controls.

Nov. 8 is the comment deadline for a proposed new regulation from Britain's Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013, that will implement the Council Directive 2010/32/EU for prevention of sharps injuries in health care. HSE is taking steps to adapt to the EU directive because all member states have a May 11, 2013, deadline to do so.

Its online guidance about the proposed rules says there is no reliable data on the number of sharps injuries suffered by UK health care workers, but studies estimate as many as 100,000 injuries per year are occurring in this sector.

The agency's Consultation Document asked for comments on whether the proposed regulations enable health care businesses and workers to identify what they need to do, how the regulations should be supported by guidance and who is best placed to provide that guidance, and the costs and benefits of the proposed changes.

The EU directive was adopted May 10, 2010, and it implements an agreement between the European Hospital and Healthcare Employers' Association and the European Federation of Public Services Unions. That agreement specifies:

  • a) assessing risks of sharps injuries,
  • b) selecting appropriate risk controls,
  • c) implementing those controls through provision of information and training and safe working procedures,
  • d) arrangements for accident reporting
  • e) investigation of the circumstances and causes of sharps injuries, and
  • f) provision for follow-up of sharps injuries.

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