E.U. Looking to U.S. for Needlestick Safety Groundwork

November 6, 2012 marked the 12th anniversary of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. This act has helped to lead the effort in education of Needlestick prevention in the healthcare industry. The healthcare industry is expected to grow vastly in the upcoming years. OSHA indicates that there are currently 5.6 million workers in the United States are at risk of bloodborne pathogens via needlestick injuries.
The European Union’s Health and Safety Executive is currently reviewing the need for needlestick regulations. If the regulations are put into place, the Europeans will look at the U.S.’ implementation of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act as a guideline for what to expect. Mary Foley, PhD, and chair for Safe in Common, a non-profit committed to promoting awareness about needlestick safety, has been providing her recommendations on what the EU can learn from the US and their implementation of this act.
The U.S. has faced many challenges that the EU is hoping to avoid if the regulations are put into place. In an interview with www.infectioncontroltoday.com, Foley stated that many of the devices that were released soon after the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act passed, met the intent of the law, but safety is not integral to the product. Meaning that the product is not automatically safe and the process needed to make the device safe is, in fact, dangerous. Another, challenge that Foley identified is that flu season puts many people at risk because such a large number of workers and patients are exposed to sharps in a variety of different settings from, grocery stores, to parking lots, to airports. All of these places need to be properly equipped with sharps safety measures and disposal procedures. Regarding this process, Foley remarked, “Not only is the healthcare provider at risk but so are the communities in which those devices will be disposed. That is wrong! Protecting the public should not be traded for risks to the care provider, or the community.”
In 2010, The International Healthcare Worker Safety Center at the University of Virginia and the American Nurses Association agreed and came up with a call to action for the healthcare industry that focuses on the following five steps:
  1. Improve sharps safety in surgical settings.
  2. Understand and reduce exposure risks in non-hospital settings.
  3. Involve frontline workers in the selection of safety devices
  4. Address gaps in the availability of safety devices and encourage innovative designs and technology.
  5. Enhance worker education and training.
Needlestick injuries can be prevented if proper action is taken. It is up to the managers and workers in the clinics, offices, hospitals, or any other location where sharps are used for injections to be mindful of this. For the complete article on the EU needlestick regulations please visit www.infectioncontroltoday.com.
Certol manufacturers ProTector Needle Sheath, a needlestick safety device designed for applications where multiple injections from the same needle are required on a patient. Click here to learn more about ProTector Needle Sheath Prop.