More than 90% of surgeons have experienced some sort of needlestick injury. Surgeons and hospital workers aren't the only ones at risk for sharps injuries. Anyone handling trash has the potential to contact a syringe needle.
If you operate in or around the medical field you need to learn the basics of needle safety. Needlestick injuries can cause exposure to blood-borne pathogens and also cause physical and emotional trauma.
Check out this comprehensive guide to sharps safety. With it in hand, you can gain a broader understanding of needle handling safety and ensure the continued health of you and your medical-field coworkers.
Establish a Culture of Safety
It is paramount that your medical employer establishes a culture of safety. All employees from the lowest to the highest levels need to prioritise safety at all times. Define what safety means to you at your job through safety meetings.
Safety lapses can lead to incidents on the job such as needle stick injuries. At least a few times a year ensure that your coworkers and you sit down and make sure you are all on the same page when it comes to workplace safety.
Communicate and Report
It is estimated that close to half of needlestick injuries go unreported. If you or anyone you work with gets stuck by a needle, you need to report it right away. An effective reporting system is the greatest tool for improvement.
If a needlestick injury gets reported, appropriate actions can be taken to ensure victims receive proper medical care. Certain blood-borne pathogens can be avoided if steps are taken fast enough after the incident.
Train in Needle Safety
You need to ensure that all personnel at your place of work undergo regular training on needle safety at least once a year. You should also include training on blood-borne pathogens for other types of incidents involving bodily fluids.
Make sure that all personnel understand how to work around, use and dispose of needles the right way. Needle safety is everyone's responsibility, but without proper training, it is impossible to achieve a safe work environment.
Store and Dispose of Needles the Right Way
You need to store and dispose of all needles in the appropriate containers. Identifiable and approved sharps bins are your best bet for disposing of needles. Ensure you dispose of these bins in proper medical waste receptacles.
New needles should be stored under lock and key in their appropriate factory packaging. Ensure that they are stored under sanitary conditions, and keep them locked up to deter theft or misplacement.
Wear Proper PPE
Personal protective equipment or PPE is essential in minimising the potential for needlestick injuries. One of the most essential pieces of PPE is gloves. Anyone handling needles should always wear a pair of gloves.
Ensure that the types of gloves used when handling needles are thick enough to minimise the risk of puncture. They should also fit well enough to provide the dexterity needed for administering intravenous services to a patient.
Use the Right Needles
The best way to avoid sharps injuries is to use needles designed to be safe. If you have the option you should always use safety needles to minimise the potential for a needlestick injury.
Take Out the Trash the Right Way
Even if you have an iron-clad needle disposal strategy, accidents will happen. Careless or undertrained personnel may accidentally dispose of a needle in a conventional trash bin. If you take out the trash you may be at risk for injury.
When handling trash at a medical facility, never put pressure on the trash bag. Doing so may cause a needle to stick out and hurt you. Always grab the trash bag from the top and hold it away from your body to avoid needlesticks.
Stay Vigilant and Avoid Complacency
Even if a safety issue with needlesticks hasn't happened at your facility in a long time, don't let your guard down. All it takes is one careless action for a once-safe workplace to get compromised by a needlestick.
Always remain alert and watchful at work. Know where the needles you are working with are at all times. If you find yourself getting drowsy or complacent, let a coworker know so you can take a break.
Follow Up With Any Sharps Injury
If you or a coworker were a victim of a needlestick, you need to follow up with appropriate actions. First of all, you need to identify what was in the needle at the time of the stick. Some drugs can cause debilitating or dangerous effects.
Next, blood work needs to be taken from the victim to ensure no contamination took place. The wound should also be washed out with soap and water, and the victim should be brought to an Emergency Room for treatment.
Know How to Travel With Needles
Not all needlestick injuries happen at work. Sometimes people with conditions such as diabetes need to travel with needles to maintain their health. If you are one of them or travel with someone like this, be aware of the risks.
Keep needles separate from other baggage in well-marked containers. Keep them secured in a hard container of some sort to minimise the potential for needlesticks. Never put pressure on something with sharps.
Know the Types of Sharps Out There
There are tons of types of sharps out there, and part of avoiding needlestick injuries is to identify the ones in your home or workplace. From syringes to lancets and auto-injectors, every type of sharp looks different.
If you live or work in a place with sharps, ask a knowledgeable individual or do some research online to figure out what the different kinds around you look like. Identification is the most important tool you have to avoid injury.
Keep Yourself Safe Around Needles
Needle safety at work or home is not a difficult thing to ascertain. All it requires is a bit of knowledge, training and discipline. If you work with or around needles, make sure to use the knowledge in this guide to stay safe.
For all your medical equipment needs, such as PPE or sharps disposal/storage containers contact us today. With the right tools, you and your coworkers can remain safe around needles.