Sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector

Injuries caused by needles and other sharp instruments are one of the most
common and serious risks to healthcare workers in Europe and represent a high
cost for health systems and society in general.

It is recognised that hospital and healthcare workers (nurses, doctors,
surgeons, etc.), particularly in certain departments and activities
(emergencies, intensive care, surgical operations, etc.), frequently risk
infection due to injuries caused by needles or other sharp instruments
(scalpels, suture equipment, etc.). The consequences may be very serious,
possibly leading to serious diseases such as viral hepatitis or AIDS.

Some studies estimate the number of needle-stick injuries at approximately 1
200 000 per year in Europe.

The European Commission has published a proposed Council Directive on the
implementation of a Framework Agreement on the prevention from sharp injuries
in the hospital and healthcare sector.

The aim of the Agreement is to protect workers at risk of injury from all
medical 'sharps' (including needle-sticks). It provides for an integrated
approach to risk assessment, risk prevention, training, information,
awareness-raising and monitoring and for response and follow-up procedures.

The new proposal aims to give legal effect to the Framework Agreement which was
signed on 17 July 2009 by HOSPEEM (European Hospital and Healthcare Employers'
Association) and EPSU (European Federation of Public Services Unions).

More information: - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work