Ouch! Needlestick Injuries on the Rise
Needlestick injuries and subsequent infections have been rising in recent years. This has resulted in a variety of diseases such as hepatitis and related HIV cases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 2% of all new HIV infections globally are because of unsafe injections—with 96,000 people being infected with HIV each year. Without a doubt, there is a need to implement a bloodborne pathogens program to protect individuals from needlestick injuries. The Hazards of Bloodborne Pathogens Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms that can be carried in human blood and certain bodily fluids. They can cause a variety of diseases including different types of hepatitis and even HIV. Needlestick injuries are often associated with specific workplace practices that can increase the risk of bloodborne pathogen exposure. While the actual use of a scalpel, needle or other sharp objects can result in penetrating stab wounds that expose employees to blood and various body fluids, other work-related practices are associated with exposure to pathogens as well. These include activities as simple as recapping or disposing of a needle that has already been used. An occupational safety plan must be implemented to control and limit exposure to these types of pathogens in every company and organization where there is a risk of needlestick injuries. The Importance of Occupational Safety Implementing and following safety procedures can help reduce the number of needlestick injuries in the workplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these types of injuries can result in extra costs for a company. These include lost employee time, laboratory testing expenses, and any treatment costs for the infected employee. An employer must put together and implement a plan for exposure control on every worksite. The plan should include all measures for employee protection. It must also specify how an employer will implement work practice controls, employee training, protective clothing, and other steps to control the hazard as required by OSHA. There are several precautions to take if you are at risk of a needlestick injury—including:
- Implementing a safe method of needle disposal before needles are used.
- Disposing of needles and other sharp objects immediately after use (in appropriate containers).
- Reporting needlestick injuries to the appropriate personnel as soon as they occur and keeping a log of needlestick injuries.
- Investing in safer medical devices.
- Providing quality training on a regular basis for all staff that may be exposed to needlestick injuries.