Working with Sharps
The Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 Prior to the publication of European Directive 2010/32/EU, a framework agreement was developed that brought together a number of existing health and safety requirements in order to make the legal framework to protect workers from sharps injuries more explicit. The UK went down the legislative route, and The Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 came into force on the 11th May 2013.
The regulations apply to employers whose primary activity is to organise, manage and provide treatment to others that involve the use of sharps. Those covered under the act include not only those that undertake the procedure but all others that may come into contact with any sharps, which will include all employees, servicemen and cleaners.
The main requirements of the regulations mean Employers need to assess the risk of sharps injuries under the COSHH regulations. Where risks are identified, the regulations require the employer to take specific risk control measures detailed below:
Work practice controls
These controls aim to change the behaviour of workers to reduce exposure to occupational hazards. Examples include:
The Environmental Protection Act 1990
Under this act, anyone that disposes of waste has a duty of care to ensure that waste is disposed of safely.
Subjects covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 are as follows:
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, it is unlawful to deposit, recover or dispose of controlled (including clinical) waste without a waste management licence, contrary to the conditions of a licence or the terms of an exemption, or in a way which causes pollution of the environment or harm to human health. Contravention of waste controls is a criminal offence. Section 34 of the act places people concerned with controlled (including clinical) waste under a duty of care to ensure that the waste is managed properly, recovered or disposed of safely and is only transferred to someone who is authorised to keep it. Householders are exempt for their own household waste.
Hazardous healthcare waste is subject to the requirements of the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005. [Extract is taken from Gov.UK website https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-waste 30th June 2014]
All commercial businesses must have a waste removal contract with either the council or a private waste removal company. If you produce less than one bin bag full of clinical waste per collection, then you can dispose of clinical waste such as cotton wool and tissues in with a normal waste collection. If you produce more than this per collection, then a suitable clinical waste contract must be obtained.
Anything sharp that could pierce or has pierced skin should be put into the correct category of sharps disposal. We can give you a hand if you’re not sure what kind of sharps disposal you need. Any of the below should be disposed of in a sharps bin:
Your Sharps waste needs to be disposed of in a dedicated sharps bin of a suitable size which we will provide you with as part of your contract. From there, it is incinerated.
If you’re producing hazardous waste, you have a duty of care to ensure that it’s housed and disposed of in the most appropriate way.
You will need to employ the services of a specialist waste disposal company that will safely remove your sharps boxes when full, along with any other hazardous waste.