Needlestick InjuriesFree advice for victims of needlestick injuries
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Needlestick injuries are wounds typically as a result of sharp needles that accidently penetrate the skin. These types of injuries may occur when people use, dissemble or discard needles. If the needle is infected with body fluids such as blood, it’s possible that it might transfer a number of transmittable diseases, especially blood borne infections. When this occurs in a work context the term occupational exposure is used.
Needle-stick injuries are most common in healthcare workers, but can also affect tattoo artists, refuse collectors, carers, cleaners and children who may pick up the needles by accident. Lately there has been major concerns regarding the transmitting of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV as a result of Needle stick injuries.
In the United Kingdom, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) tracks the occupational exposure of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C to patients and health care workers. A report released by the HPA in 2012 stated that between 2002 and 2011, the majority of work-related Needle-stick accidents involved those people working in nursing professions. There was also a considerable rise in accidents involving those in medical and dental professions.
Ways to avoid needlestick accidents at work
- The Health Protection Agency advises taking the following actions to prevent Needle stick accidents:
Avoid wearing open footwear in situations where blood could be split, or where sharp instruments are handled.
- Cover any existing wounds, lesions on your skin and any breaks in exposed skin with water-resistant bandages and wear gloves if hands are affected extensively.
- Where contact with blood is anticipated, wear gloves.
- Stick to safe procedures regarding the disposal of infected waste.
- Change gloves between patients.
- A pre-employment occupational health assessment should identify those who have damaged skin e.g. eczema – these people could be at greater risk of infections. Make sure that advice is given regarding minimising any occupational health risk to which they may be exposed.
- Wear gloves when cleaning equipment before sterilisation or disinfection and when clearing up spillages.
- Clean up any spillage of blood promptly and disinfect all surfaces.
- Avoid using sharp instruments where possible. Wherever usage is essential, exercise particular care in handling and disposal.
- Wash hands before and after contact with each patient and prior to putting on and after removing gloves.
Do I have a needlestick claim?
All organisations have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for their employees through the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. If you’ve been unfortunate and suffered a Needle stick injury from the carelessness of your employer, the contact Mercury Legal Online on 0800 122 3036. Alternatively fill in our call back form and we will call you back when its convenient for you.
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