Where needles are present and used within your care home, it is imperative that they are properly managed in compliance with the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Regulations on sharps in hospitals and the healthcare sector. The Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 (also known as the Sharps Regulations) are intended to prevent injuries and blood-borne infections from needles and other sharps to both the person administering medical treatment and those receiving it.
If you provide healthcare in your care home, then is crucial for your care home staff to understand their legal obligations under these Regulations.
The UK Sharps Regulations are based upon provisions set out in the EU Council Directive 2010/32/EU (the Sharps Directive) on the prevention of sharps injuries. The purpose of this Directive was to protect healthcare workers from serious blood-borne infections such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV, as a result of needle stick injuries – which are defined as a wound caused by a needle that has accidentally punctured the skin.
In fact, more than 20 diseases can be transmitted by sharps that are contaminated with infected blood, making injuries from sharp instruments such as needles a very serious matter. The HSE has issued guidance for employers and employees on the Sharps Regulations, which should be carefully followed and understood to ensure that the use and disposal of needles in your care home environment is as safe and responsible as possible, and that due care is being taken to prevent needle stick injuries to everyone present.
The Sharps Regulations – how they should be followed in your care home
The principles of the HSE Sharps Regulations on needles and other sharp instruments follow the hierarchy of preventative control measures that is set out in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).
However, there are several additional risk control measures that are set out in the Sharps Regulations. The primary measure that should be taken is to only use needles when it is absolutely necessary, and when it is not possible to use needle-free equipment instead.
When it’s not reasonably practicable to use medical equipment without needles, your care home staff must:
We hope that you have found our overview of the EU and UK Sharps Regulations useful; however you will find full guidance and advice on the Health and Safety Executive’s website. At Care Shop, you can find a comprehensive selection of syringes and needles, as well as sharps safety and sharps disposal equipment in the IV & Injections range to ensure that you are always well-stocked and prepared for the safe disposal of sharps in your care home.