A 16-year-old girl is anxiously awaiting blood test results after sitting on a needle on a bus.

She was on the top deck of the number 24 Brighton and Hove Bus Company vehicle when she was pricked by the needle.

The worried student, from Brighton, East Sussex spent the next four hours in hospital where she was given a hepatitis jab and had blood tests.

Speaking about the incident, she said: ‘My friend and I had got on the bus to go home and we were sat on the top.

‘I suddenly had this shooting pain in the back of my leg. I reached down and pulled out a needle that had snapped in half.

‘Then I looked down the side of the bus seat and there were packets and a syringe on the floor and the rest of the needle.’







East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has informed staff of no less than 40 incidents in the last 3 months when clinical waste was being sent to the laundry, some in clinical waste bags only but mostly in linen bags.

The Trust notes that “this is clearly not trust policy and poses significant health and safety risks to staff involved with laundry processing.

“It is difficult to pin down the wards and departments where this is happening as laundry is not traced beyond the hospital site.

These things happen, when policy is not sufficient and training inadequate. We do not know why it took 40 incidents before action was taken, but at least informing staff to raise awareness if a good first step. However, a robust root and branch review of clinical and other waste management processes and procedures seems overdue.




Viridor brings cyclist safety to London waste fleet

The company has fitted its London-based waste collection vehicles with sideguards and sensors, to help prevent collisions on the road with cyclists.

Viridor has fitted a number of cyclist safety features on the inside and outside of its London waste vehiclesOver 50 rigid vehicles from the Canning Town and Iver South depots have been fitted with a range of measures aimed at minimising potential hazards to road users.

These include side guard bars to protect cyclists from becoming trapped in the space underneath the vehicle, and side scanners that alert drivers to any road users that may be present alongside them.

The ‘ultra-sonic’ scanners issue a bleeping noise inside the cab, helping collection crews ascertain if any cyclists are in the blind spot of one of the six mirrors installed in the vehicles.

External warning devices have also been installed on the vehicles to warn of a planned left hand turn. When the driver activates the left hand turn signal, a verbal warning announcement is repeatedly broadcast outside of the cab to alert cyclists of their intentions.

The investment has cost over £1,000 per vehicle across the Viridor fleet. It follows the past installation of safety features including side-view cameras, cycle safety vision windows and awareness stickers.

Viridor is also trialling 360 degree cameras on two of its vehicles to assess whether this leads to a significant reduction in potential incidents.



By no means exclusive to our central theme of clinical waste management and safety, but nobody can have missed the news of many cyclist deaths crushed under the wheels of trucks, especially in London

Well done Viridor, for making a valuable contribution to cycle safety.

Are your fleet vehicles cycle-safe?









A single mum whose daughter pricked her finger on a blood-stained needle discarded on a bus has spoken of the two month ordeal her family endured before finally getting the all clear.

Terri Hessing’s four-year-old daughter Jessica found the used needle down the side of a seat while travelling on an Arriva SB2 bus in January from Stevenage town centre to her home in Exeter Close.

Terri rushed Jessica to her GP who then referred her to Lister Hospital where she had a blood test four weeks later.

The results checking whether Jessica may have picked up some sort of infection from the needle took more than a month to come back.

“The worrying was awful,” she said. “Not knowing was the real issue. The doctors were satisfied she was low risk but that wasn’t much comfort to me. The stress was complete torture.”

During the tests it was established that the needle was probably use for insulin, which is vital for diabetics to help them regulate the glucose levels in their blood.

But as it was smeared with blood doctors believed it may have been used by a drug addict because they tend to draw blood when they inject.

Terri has three other children and said in addition to the mental strain it has put her family under their finances have had to cope as well.



Not wishing to pour misery on the family’s predicament, I am a little disturbed by the new report that specifies only a 2 month waiting period for an all clear, that realistically might extend for up to 6 months.

Fingers crossed



Needle with drop of bloodDublin City Council paid out some €8.32 million last year in staff and public injury claims.

According to figures released to Councillor Jim O’Callaghan, a total of €11 million has been paid out by the council on compensation claims since 2012, with the bulk of it spent last year.

Most of the money last year was spent paying compensation for claims from the public, with €7.7 million in settlements being paid. The main types of injuries were broken limbs, facial injuries and shoulder and back injuries.

Most of the claims were for broken limbs, facial injuries and shoulder and back injuries. However, the figures also showed an increase in injuries from syringe needles.

32 syringes a day are picked up from Dublin’s streets between the council and a number of groups.

The high numbers of needlestick injuries are of particular concern and bring focus on the provision of personal protection equipment and appropriate training for staff.





8-year-old stuck by hypodermic needle found on school playground

Needle with drop of bloodEthan Gurr likes to collect “treasures,” according to his mom, but the 8-year-old’s latest find has doctors testing Ethan’s blood to make sure he hasn’t been exposed to HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.

“I don’t want to say this to be mean, but he’s kind of a packrat,” Katrina Gurr said. “He finds something, discovers it, and he’s got maybe a box or a bag and he’s got his little treasures in there.”

Typically, it’s “cool rocks and things like that,” she added.

“It’s not uncommon to get surprises in the washer,” Ethan’s dad, Mike Gurr, said.

Ethan was walking around the perimeter of the playground Tuesday at East Elementary School when he found something unusual for his collection — a hypodermic needle. The second-grader said he stashed his discovery in his lunchbox for safekeeping.

When Ethan reached into his lunchbox a short time later, the needle poked his finger.

“Then I looked at my finger and it was on my finger,” he said Thursday.

Ethan’s younger sister told their mom after school that Ethan had the needle, Katrina Gurr said, and her son initially tried to get rid of it. She retrieved the needle, though, and began to press her son for information.

“I said, ‘Honey, it’s important that you tell me if you have been poked,'” Katrina Gurr said.

Ethan eventually showed his mom the spot where the needle had pricked his finger, and she took him to the hospital for blood tests. She also contacted the school with her concerns.

“If it is a drug needle, why is it there at the school?” Katrina Gurr said, noting that there appeared to be dried blood around the base of the needle.

Custodians are now required to walk the grounds at East Elementary to check for needles and other hazards, according to Dean Wilson, director of student services for the Duchesne County School District. The practice will soon be in place district-wide, he said.

“We have a secondary and elementary principals training (where) we will go over this as a district, not just leave it to the one school,” Wilson said.

District administrators have asked Roosevelt police to increase patrols around East Elementary, and an assembly will be held Friday to talk to students about safety, Wilson said.

“We’re going to do the best we can to keep our kids safe,” he said.

The Gurrs hope the district’s policy changes — and their decision to share Ethan’s story — will prevent other children from coming into contact with used needles at school and in other public places.

“As safe as you think your children are in a small-town school or anywhere, it’s possible they are being exposed to more than you know,” Katrina Gurr said.

The first round of test results show that Ethan is OK, but doctors won’t know if he is truly in the clear until another round of blood test are run in six months.

“You try not to think about it,” Mike Gurr said, referring to the possibility that his son may have accidentally become infected with a lethal disease, “but it’s hard not to.”

Good luck Ethan






Needle with drop of bloodThe number of young men in London injecting steroids is rising on a “regular basis” a drugs charity has warned.

South Westminster Drug and Alcohol Service said an increasing number of young male clients were seeking support for anabolic steroid use. A similar trend is likely in other UK towns and cities.

Home Office figures show 60,000 people used steroids in the UK in 2014

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said it was the “tip of the iceberg” and advised gyms to supply sharps bins for needles.

Roy Jones, from the South Westminster service, said: “Our numbers are increasing on a regular basis.

“I’ve been working with steroid users for 16 years and when I first started, the guys taking them were body builders in their 30s.

Easygym have installed sharps bins in all their gyms, while Fitness First, Virgin Active and David Lloyd said some of their clubs also have them.

All the gyms said they had a zero tolerance approach to steroids and the bins were a health and safety measure for diabetic members and the disposal of razors.

We on the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum have been raising awareness of this problem for some considerable time now. Continue reading “Rising number of young men in London injecting steroids” »

Needle with drop of bloodPublic Health England says yet another healthcare worker who may have had contact with the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has been transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in London after returning to the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) said the worker, who may have had contact with the deadly virus in Sierra Leone, does not currently have any symptoms.

After arriving back in the UK on Wednesday, the worker was transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in London for assessment and they will continue to be monitored for signs of the disease.

Professor Paul Cosford, PHE’s director for health protection, said: “The overall risk to the general public from Ebola remains very low.

“We are confident all appropriate public health actions have been, and will continue to be, taken to support this individual and to protect the public’s health.


Of course, we keep our fingers tightly crossed that all will be well for this individual.

More so, we continue to hope that these UK healthcare workers Ebola sharps incidents and similar events affecting workers from other countries stimulate much more the multifaceted work toward the prevention of sharps injuries in other healthcare situations.

We can only hope.



A dozen NHS Grampian workers have successfully sued their employers after being injured by needles at work.

Staff faced months not knowing whether they had been hit with infections such as HIV and Hepatitis C following their injury.

NHS Grampian confirmed that payments were paid to the 12 staff after legal claims were lodged on grounds of stress suffered during the “agonising” wait.

While all of the workers received the all-clear following testing, undisclosed sums were agreed given their ordeal.

Exclusive figures show needlestick injuries were one of the most common personal injury claims made against the health board by staff over the last three years.

Litigation expert Julie Clark-Spence, a partner at Balfour and Manson in Aberdeen, said clients often faced months of uncertainty following such injuries.

She said: “We act for a number of individuals who have suffered needle stick injuries.

“Clients are often faced with an agonising wait for test results following injury because of potential exposure to blood-borne viruses. Many are under a great deal of stress and anxiety whilst tests are being carried out.

“Clients are subject to regular blood tests and immunisation which can take many months to conclude.”

Martin McKay, health spokesman at Unison in Aberdeen, said much work had been done to reduce the number of needlestick injuries.

However, he added that staffing shortages at the board may have contributed to the claims.

He said: “There have been vast improvements made in the past decade to reduce these injuries but incidents still occur.

“We believe the protocols put in place have vastly improved the safety of staff.”

“We have had a difficult few years at NHS Grampian and there have been well documented staffing and recruitment issues.

“Sometimes these issues may be factors in some cases.”

Strict rules govern the safe disposal of needles but the kit can become misplaced, with cleaners and laundry workers amongst those at risk.

A spokesman for the board said, if a needled had already been used on a patient, the patient would be traced and blood tests carried out on them.

The injured worker would then be offered appropriate immunisations with their blood stored for future testing, depending on the outcome of the patient’s screening.

The spokeswoman added: “We take the safety of our staff very seriously. Staff are encouraged to report all incidents and we use this information to improve safety all the time.

“We are by no means complacent and we continue to study accident reports in order to learn lessons.”



The mandatory introduction of engineered sharps safety devices was intended to reduce the rate of sharps injury.

Indeed, that has occurred but as we predicted several years ago safety sharps introduction has introduced a degree of complacency among users, particularly at the point of disposal. Data are not available to ascertain whether or not this has resulted in a consequential increase in the number of sharps injuries among ancillary staff and waste handlers. However, that increase does seem quite likely.

There are many situations during blood taking and injections where sharps injury might occur despite safety engineered devices. When a patient jumps or recoils suddenly, with agitated patients, and perhaps just being unlucky can lead to a sharps injury despite good practice.

There is evidence that a few trusts have reduced sharps training for some groups of staff presumably due to time and cost constraints, maybe through the arrogance of senior staff who will not attend training sessions, and in the expectation that safety devices have reduced the need. There may be issues also with the quality of this training, that properly focusses as much on disposal as use of sharps, this being an aspect of least concern for busy healthcare staff.

There remains an issue of staff being unfamiliar with a different type of safety sharps device when moving between employers resulting in a transient increase in sharps injury rate.

Even worse, some trusts are reported still to implement safety sharps use, apparently for reasons of costs.

Despite pressure for safety sharps starting among users, healthcare professionals and their professional bodies and later by the learned bodies and trades union groups, and through specific legislation, universal protection has not been achieved. The impetus is beginning to wane, perhaps only slightly, but that downward trend does not help.

Mandatory reporting of sharps injury incidents and near misses under RIDDOR has not been accepted by HSE, presumably because it would simply be too much work. Thus, HSE sits on its hands and the UK sharps injury legislation remains more or less on the shelf.

Perhaps the reality of costly legal action, or simply the threat of legal action, will reinvigorate sharps injury prevention among healthcare professionals, ancillary staff and waste handlers, and all of those others who might come into contact with sharps. We can but hope.


see also Sharps in the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum



The information given by suppliers, in their catalogues or on-line, can guide users or lead them far up the garden path.

So it is with this medical equipment and supplies provider advertising orange, located on the web today, Saturday 21 February 2015.



The small print associated with this offering assures the purchaser that the sack is:

  • Unique colour indicates that contents can be recycled, autoclaved or sent to landfill
  • Clearly printed with UN markings to signify clinical waste
  • Available in medium and heavy duty gauges and in a number of sizes
  • Supplied on rolls for convenient dispensing
  • Ideal for use with clinical waste bins MSC0270, MSC0271 and MSC0272.
  • Ideal for use in a first aid rooms – helps comply with HSE guidance document L74


Of course, if one of these filled sacks appeared at a recycling facility or a landfill site alarm bells would ring, klaxons sound, and lights flash as everything grinds to a standstill for clean-up and investigation. Someone, somewhere, would be for the high jump.

Going further, the supplier claims that it’s use would be ideal for use in a first aid room, where a Tiger bag could be more appropriate, and to help comply with the HSE guidance document L74.

L47 First Aid at Work. The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981: Guidance on Regulations 2013. ISBM 9780717665600 is an important document though in the case of a recommendation for orange waste sacks, it is a yellow sack specified in L74. Perhaps both suggestions are incorrect, certainly for the average first aid room dealing with otherwise healthy adults and children with sprains, cuts and grazes etc.  As we know, it is essentially a risk assessment that is necessary, with in most cases will conclude that a Tiger stripe bag is most often the appropriate choice.

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear!




Needle with drop of bloodThere are now two British healthcare team members repatriated from Sierra Leone having suffered sharps or needlestick incidents while caring for patients in the Ebola outbreak there.

Above all, we wish those individuals well and hope that after a necessary period of observation they remain in good health.

It is an expectation that in each of the affected areas engineered sharps safety devices are in use. These can protect during disposal and, in some cases, during needle use. However, most do not protect the user during blood taking. Excellent technique is essential to prevent injury, but if a patient moves unexpectedly there is little that can really be done to stay safe.

There is one additional hope, that these cases raise still further the profile of sharps safety programs and sharps injury prevention to users and those involved in the collection and disposal of sharps waste. There are still far too many avoidable sharps injuries occurring to healthcare professionals and to that forgotten army of litter pickers and waste handlers, to emergency service staff, police and prison officers, and many others.

Let us hope that, long after these two individuals have been discharged from hospital, in good health, the circumstances of the cases are written up for more detailed review by the scientific community. That may assist in future prevention strategies, in the immediate period for the protection of those still working under such difficult and high risk circumstances in West Africa, and in the longer term by giving a boost to sharps injury prevention overall.





Needle with drop of bloodParents sue hospital over illness 7-year-old allegedly contracted from needlestick

GRETNA, Louisiana – The parents of a 7-year-old who allegedly contracted an auto-immune disorder after being stuck by a contaminated needle while in the care of a local hospital and healthcare providers are suing.

Joseph A. Vizzini and Jessica Vizzini, individually and on behalf of their minor child, filed suit against Ochsner Clinic Foundation, Lisa De Fusco MD, Michael Saucier MD and an unknown lab technician in the 24th Judicial District Court on Oct. 9.

The Vizzinis claim that their child was a patient at the Rothchild Ochsner Pediatric Clinic on Oct. 11, 2011 when an unknown lab technician accidentally stuck herself with a needle and proceeded to use the same needle – that was then contaminated – to draw blood from their child. The plaintiffs allege that following the incident their child has developed several serious health conditions, including Reynaud’s Disease, arthritis, ethromalalgia vascular disease, autoimmune disorder and migraines, they attribute his exposure to the lab technicians blood via the contaminated needle. The Vizzinis contend that treating physicians have been unable to provide an explanation for their child’s medical problems.

The defendant is accused of medical malpractice.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought by the plaintiff.



We consider the risks of any sharps injury are of Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and/or HIV infection. In reality, there are many more bacterial and viral infections documented to have been transmitted by sharps injury, and one or to “funnies” including protozoal infection though these latter tend to occur only in laboratory settings.

In this case, however, the advocates seem to propose the most remarkable array of consequences in conjunction with a possible sharps injury event.




Recycling and waste management business Veolia is investing £1 million in cyclist safety equipment for its fleet of refuse vehicles.

Some good news for a change, especially for cyclists.

The TurnAlarm system, from Vision Techniques, will be fitted to all refuse vehicles, in a bid to improve cyclist safety. Veolia is also specifying the system for all new vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

TurnAlarm delivers an audible and visual warning to approaching cyclists, with high-intensity LEDs flashing from the side of the vehicle and an audible warning that the ‘vehicle is turning’.

Veolia’s system also includes a module to measure speed, preventing the alarm from activating if the vehicle is travelling at more than 10mph. Blind spot signs will also be displayed on the rear and near side of each vehicle.

The company is also rolling out cyclist awareness training for its drivers, which will be completed by September 2015.

See more at: http://www.transportengineer.org.uk/transport-engineer-news/veolia-invests-1m-in-cyclist-safety-equipment-for-refuse-fleet/65902/


Well done, Veolia. Others please follow.




On September 30, a US administrative law judge upheld seven citations and $186,000 in fines for a uniform laundry service that exposed workers to hazards from bloodborne pathogens and lead. Read the article to learn where the company went wrong and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

The initial inspection took place in 2011 in response to a complaint. OSHA inspectors found that workers at the facility picked up and sorted dirty lab coats and other laundry from customers who regularly drew and/or tested blood. The workers were exposed to lab coats and laundry potentially contaminated with blood or improperly disposed contaminated needles or syringes mixed in with the laundry. In spite of this exposure, the company failed to train its employees in OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard and to provide Hepatitis B vaccinations to drivers and loading-dock workers.

In the September 2014 ruling, the judge determined that the majority of the company’s employees neither received the Hepatitis B vaccine nor signed the form declining the vaccine. In some cases, employees were not given the option to receive the vaccine for months or years after beginning work at the facility.

The judge also determined that the company did not comply with OSHA standards requiring the use of biohazard bags.

more at: http://safety.blr.com/workplace-safety-news/safety-administration/OSHA-and-state-safety-compliance-enforcement/Judge-upholds-six-figure-fines-for-bloodborne-path/?source=RSA&effort=6


Regrettably, this case is unlikely to set any state or national legal precedent. Nor is it likely to prompt for similar proceedings in the UK and Europe where specific bloodborne pathogens legislation does not exist but where existing health and safety legislation would suffice.

The analogy between laundry workers and waste handlers is obvious, and we know only too well that improperly packaged clinical wastes are responsible for blood exposure of ancillary and support staff and of waste handlers. Does the law, guided by regulators from HSE and EA, really care?



justiceTo bring our earlier thread CCTV footage of Sterecycle explosion fully up to date, it was reported that Stericycle has been fined £500,000 after being found guilty of corporate manslaughter following the death of an employee, Michael Whinfrey, 42, at their Rotherham plant following an explosion in January 2011.

Mr Whinfrey suffered fatal head injuries after the door of an autoclave machine he was operating blew out under pressure. Another man suffered “serious life-changing injuries”.

A joint investigation, conducted by South Yorkshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive, found that the explosion resulted from the failure of a screw connection to the autoclave locking ring, which secured the door to the machine.

South Yorkshire Police said the force of the explosion blew a hole in the factory wall. Det Sgt Rob Platts, who led the investigation, said: “I am pleased with the verdict reached today as it recognises the systemic failings of a company who had a duty of care to its employees.

“The company was aware of a longstanding issue with the autoclave doors and made no effort to repair the problem properly, putting the lives of their employees at risk.”

Kevin Goss, 57, a former maintenance manager at the company, was cleared at Sheffield Crown Court of perverting the course of justice. Charges against two other men under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act were withdrawn during the trial.




Incinerator_JPG-pwrt2Two workers suffered breathing problems after an explosion at Royal Bolton Hospital’s clinical waste incinerator.

Firefighters were called to the hospital at 9.40pm on Tuesday 14 October and they said the force of the blast was so strong they heard it from Farnworth fire station – a mile-and-a-half away in Albert Road.

A large amount of smoke poured out of the incinerator after the incident, but both the company that operates it and the fire service say it is non-toxic.

The two staff who monitor the facility suffered from breathing the smoke, but did not need treatment.

Crew commander Mark Outhwaite said: “It all came down to sheer luck in that they were standing in one place.

“Had they been any nearer to the incinerator, it could have been a different story.”

Crew commander Outhwaite added: “There was debris from the incinerator everywhere and the two men were covered in it.

“They keep a wheelbarrow beneath it to collect soot and it was crushed by the force of the explosion.

“Had the workers been near it, we would be dealing with fatalities.”

After the incident, the incinerator was shut down and a safety procedure was activated, hospital bosses said. An investigation has now been launched.

The incinerator takes 36 hours to cool down and it would be hard to begin the probe until then.

“The workers said that they do see some small bangs sometimes, perhaps from asthma inhalers, but they have never seen anything that loud before,” said crew commander Outhwaite. He added: “Our role was to check the pipework had not been affected and make sure the area was safe.”

The incinerator turns hospital waste into steam which heats parts of the hospital. Heather Edwards, the hospital’s head of communications, said: “A large bang from the incinerator was heard across the site and the incinerator was put into emergency shutdown.

“A large amount of black smoke came from the chimney as a result, but both the operators of the incinerator, SRCL, and the fire brigade who attended, deemed this was not toxic. “No-one was hurt and SRCL will now be reviewing the situation.”




How secure are your sharps containers? Whether they are in a hospital clinic room or ward, a laboratory, GP surgery or in a public washroom or drug hotspot, sharps containers must be secure.

Containers must be securely assembled. When not in use, the closure should be engaged, though personally I am not entirely happy with the idea of the cover being opened and closed every 5 minutes since with some containers this brings fingers dangerously close to the content within.

The container itself must be located away from the floor where inquisitive children might roam. The evidence for this lies in the number of cases when an unsupervised child has gleefully placed their hand into the mouth of a sharps container as if pulling a prize from a lucky dip barrel.

So it is of concern that in London, Ontario, changes are being sought when it comes to the placement of the city’s needle collection bins after a child was able to grab a used syringe.

Diane Pozeg says the incident happened on July 29th while her son was in the public washroom at the Forks of the Thames while he was with a day camp.

Sharps containers are used to safely collect and store used syringes with needles attached, needles, razor blades, broken glass that has come into contact with blood or other bodily fluids and lancets. The London CAReS program, funded through the City of London, helps to clean and empty the bins and some City of London operations staff also tend to the containers.

She says the young boy was changing in order to play in the splash pad and managed to get his hand into the bin and pull out a syringe.

Pozeg says her son was able to get the needle all the way home where she found it as she was about to tuck him into bed.

“As I was prepping his bed, just fluffing up the sheets, I found a syringe and luckily it still had a cap on it,” Pozeg says. “He had kind of snuck it in there trying to hide it.”

“It just popped out and it just floored me finding it.”



Every sharps container must be properly assembled, and securely located in a location where it cannot tip or fall, and where prying hands cannot reach inside. This extends to waste security of filled and sealed containers awaiting collection for disposal, which are still an occasional target for addicts, and beyond as the containers are processed by the disposal sector operators.



WyboneAt best, hospitals are rather soulless places. With stark design, neutral – or is that bland? – colour schemes, and limited furnishings further justified now to aid infection prevention, even a few brief days in hospital can be soul destroying for adults.

For children, this is ever more so and must surely contribute to, in some cases, a significant additional psychological burden adding to that caused by separation from Mum, Dad and friends, and the distress of all those horrible smells, sights and sounds, the medicines and other treatments.

Improved visiting arrangements for children’s wards may matters a little easier, and in the newer build hospitals designers and planners have recognised the need for a more friendly environment and do brighten up the environment. Regrettably, others seem to rely solely upon the same tired adhesive prints of Disney carton characters stuck to walls and doors. It may distract a 3 year old, at least for a few minutes, but older children derive no comfort from this.

And then, whatever the approach to environment design and furnishings, it becomes necessary to plonk one or more healthcare waste sack holders in that environment. Can there appearance be improved?

Wybone have a solution to this with their zoo animal bin stickers. Nice idea, assuming that the stickers are sufficiently robust to survive daily cleaning without deterioration and peeling at the corners.

The stickers look attractive, and would work equally well on any existing sack holders without the additional cost of buying an entire set of new bins. Its a clever idea, and do note that the main image colour reflects the sack designation of green, orange, yellow or black in order not to detract from the visual prompt for source segregation. Continue reading “New designs for hospital waste bins” »

An NHS Trust has agreed to pay £75k to a nurse whose marriage broke down after she developed OCD when she was pricked by needle at work.

The trainee nurse has been awarded over £75,000 compensation after a prick on her finger at work transformed her into a cleaning obsessive. Alcinda Tobbal could not kiss or make love to her husband for fear of ‘contamination’ after being jabbed with a dirty needle whilst working as a nurse assistant at Whipps Cross Hospital in east London
The 45-year-old developed a ‘severe’ obsessive compulsive disorder focused on cleanliness after the incident in February 2008, a court heard.

She was dismissed from her job due to the effects of the extreme OCD condition, which saw her wearing gloves even in baking hot weather and scrubbing her children’s shoes with bleach whenever they had been outside.

But the most damaging aspect of her condition was that she became incapable of having intimate relations with, or even kissing, her bus driver husband, leading to the disintegration of their marriage, after he dubbed her ‘mental’. Continue reading “NHS pays £75k to nurse who developed OCD after sharps injury” »

KFC Restaurant in Brighton leaves sharps bin on toilet floorIt is, to many of us, quite straightforward. Use a sharps bin and ensure that this is securely located away from curious little hands, in a place from where it will not get knocked or tipped etc.

So now we have sharps bins in many additional locations, in public toilets, some gardens and church yards, back alleys and other drug hot spots, gyms, and now in the local KFC restaurant!

No wonder that a young mum was shocked when her daughter went to the toilet while enjoying her finger lickin’ chicken, to find a sharps bin on the floor of this Brighton KFC restaurant! Ironically having an orange lid, yet inevitably to be used by IV drug  users thus to collect syringes having, in the eyes of the Environment Agency, an environmentally harmful drug residue even if empty – though I can’t imagine a user wasting a single drop.

Credit to KFC for addressing a real and very serious problem in such a positive way. However, while that sharps bin sits on the floor it is a temptation to youngsters and others, keen to use it as a general refuse bin or curious to root inside to see what they might find. And all they will get is a sharps injury.

Just go a few steps further please. A properly wall mounted secure sharps bin would be far more appropriate, inherently safer, and less obvious to those who just want their picture in the local paper.





“A 2-year-old girl became the second child reported to be stuck by a “dirty needle” in Rolla, Missouri in the last seven weeks.

“According to the Rolla Police Department’s daily media log, an entry for Sunday, April 6, stated that the girl was “stuck in her left palm with a ‘dirty needle’ while playing in her front yard” in the 900 block of Fourth Street.

“According to Rolla police, a 12-year-old boy was stuck in the arm by a “dirty needle” after he and another 12-year-old boy started playing with several used hypodermic syringes they found Feb. 21 in the 1000 block of Laguille Court near Mark Twain Elementary School.

“A post from Sunday on the police department’s Facebook page states that “drug users (who also carry communicable diseases) would rather throw their used contaminated needles in conspicuous places so they don’t get busted by the police for being in ‘possession of drug paraphernalia.’ The problem is when we have heavy rains like we had a few days ago those needles float out of those places and into places where children can find them.

Read more: http://www.therolladailynews.com/article/20140407/News/140408881#ixzz2yHy9yJbm

See also 2-year old stuck by discarded needle



A Strabane schoolgirl has had an apparently lucky escape after falling onto a discarded syringe needle while walking home from school.

The horrifying incident happened close to the town’s St Mary’s Primary School. The 12-year-old was on her way home from an after-school club when she tripped and fell. She landed on the needle, cutting her hand.

Her anguished mother took her to Altnagelvin hospital on Friday where tests were carried out. They have since come back clear. Examinations of the needle have also indicated that it was clean and had not been previously used.

See more at: http://ulsterherald.com/2014/04/07/schoolgirl-falls-on-discarded-needle/#sthash.ugU19FYV.dpuf

Sadly, that’s not quite the end of it, since there remains a 6-9 month period during which the risk, however small, may continue. The girl may leave A&E with just a plaster covering a cut or puncture site but the risk of infection, and the even greater risk of post-traumatic anxiety focussed upon the risk of infection, cannot so easily be dismissed.

Let’s hope the girl and her family, who can be similarly and perhaps more severely affected, will by OK.




A 2-year old girl was ‘jabbed’ in the palm of her hand – penetrating her skin – after picking the needle up from the floor of a toilet at the MacDonald’s restaurant in the Castlemilk district of Glasgow.

Mum reported that the little girl had picked the needle up from the floor of a toilet in the restaurant, and was later assessed at Glasgow Victoria Infirmary.

I wonder how this incident will impact on the overall mapping of sharps finds across Scottish cities, and if that system pas finds on private land and in domestic or commercial premises. Probably not.

see Thousands of syringes on Scotland’s streets




Dozens of dirty needles were discovered by a dog walker on a riverbank, prompting fears for the safety of passers-by.

Andree Wood, a nurse from Grangetown in Cardiff, takes her three-year-old pooch Lilly for a walk under Penarth bridge at Taff Embankment twice a day – but said she has never seen so many needles discarded on the footpath.

“I am very much concerned that anyone could stand on one of the needles as it’s such a popular spot for dog walkers and people who go fishing.

Mum-of-three Andree said she has come across a couple of needles under the bridge about every six months since she started walking Lilly. “I have never seen this amount of needles before,” she said. “It’s awful.”

A South Wales Police spokesman said the needles have now been cleared from under the bridge.

It is just rather strange that, as shown in the picture from Wales Today, so many needles and their outer wrappers were discarded in one spot. Presumably, they were dumped from a bag or box.




A boy has stepped onto a needle on Lyme’s main beach.

The five-year-old boy was playing football on the main sandy beach when he stepped on the needle, assumed to be unwrapped, at about 2.30pm, 2.5 metres from the boundary wall near Jane’s Cafe.

The boy, visiting from Somerset, was immediately taken to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester. He is now receiving a 12-month course of anti-Hepatitis B medication and will have HIV blood tests in six months.


At five years old, the boy will have been aware of his parents’ anxiety and distress, and will have had the additional stress of a visit to hospital, blood tests and inoculations etc. By now he is probably over that, though there is more to come. But for his mum and dad, and for the extended family, the anguish will continue.




A worried mother faces months of uncertainty after her son stepped on a used syringe at a South Mackay playground.

The seven-year-old boy underwent the first of a long series of tests at Mackay Base Hospital on Saturday.

He would have to have more tests in three months and again six months after that before being cleared of any infection, the mother of five said.

“I’m staying positive, but I’m prepared for the worst,” she said. “I just want him not to worry about it.”


Mum is now campaigning by distributing flyers to neighbours warning of needle dangers an advising on safe disposal. As she says, “having a diabetic child I know how to dispose of needles, it’s easy“.

Mackay is a small coastal city in Queensland, Australia, looking out to the Coral Sea. Regrettably, it is not free from IV drug abuse, and this is the consequence.

Though it is reported that people congregate in the unlit park after dark, police and other direct action will only drive the push elsewhere, without necessarily reducing the risk of accidental sharps injury. Since this is a considerable hazard and major public health issue, the next option might be to provide a secure sharps box, though few residents would be likely to accept that, especially in a children’s playground.

This leads to two questions. Are there enough funds to provide a secure and safe location for injections, a “shooting gallery” and would the community accept this? And secondly, what about offering fully automatic or passive engineered safety sharps that would deactivate and return to a safe condition once used?

Both options will cost money. But in the long term, how much will they save?




Needle with drop of bloodA MindMetre research note on the implementation of EU Directive 2010/32/EU in UK NHS Acute Trusts paints a poor picture of sharps safety compliance.

Now long after the required date for implementation, the introduction of safety engineered safety sharps, and everything else that goes along with the Health and Safety (Sharps Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 which became live on 11th May 2013, a third of hospital trusts in England are failing to comply with safety regulations designed to reduce the risk of sharps injuries to staff.

MindMetre analysts found 33% of Trusts did not instruct staff to use safety devices “wherever possible” in their sharps policies, despite it being an explicit requirement of health and safety regulations introduced last year on the back of the European Union directive.

The report from business analysts MindMetre investigated the implementation of directive 2010/32/EU, which came into force in May 2010, and was followed by UK guidance from the Health and Safety Executive.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the analysts obtained details of safety policies from 159 hospital trusts.

Their report said: “The emerging picture is one of widespread progress towards adoption and compliance, but also one which shows that there is considerable ground yet to be covered.” Continue reading “One third of NHS acute Trusts in breach of EU & UK sharps rules” »

A 16 month old toddler has died after overdosing on iron tablets he thought were ‘Mummy’s sweets’ after his sister climbed onto the bathroom sink to reach them.

When children are in the house, ALL tablets and capsules etc are dangerous and should be kept under lock and key to prevent accidental poisoning.

For adults, the additional risks of stockpiling old and unwanted medicinal products, whether prescription drugs or not, include unwanted adverse effects from deteriorating and out-of-date medicines, and in a few of intentional self-harm.

Though limits on prescriptions should alleviate the latter, GPs and others have repeatedly blamed patients for asking for a prescription, and then for repeat prescriptions, without a hint of irony since it is their own responsibility, not the patient’s, to assess each request and prescribe accordingly. Regrettably, that takes just a little too much time and effort.

And our concern, of disposal of these unwanted products that accumulate in a kitchen or bathroom cupboard, is to ensure environmentally sound disposal. That cannot happen if unwanted pharmaceuticals are thrown into a black sack or poured down the toilet.

Until the Environment Agency awake from their slumbers and address this issue, instead of fussing about an occasional blister pack that the might observe in an orange sack, the better and safer this will be. Lower NHS costs, fewer accidental overdoses, less intentional self-harm, and far lower environmental impact from inappropriate disposal.

There is a GP surgery or clinic, or a family pharmacy in every High Street and shopping precinct, and in every large supermarket. The opportunities to operate a properly funded and effective take-back scheme are there, but need purpose and negotiation, and a willingness to make an effort at least to initiate those negotiations and drive them forward in a positive and encouraging way. Regrettably, that isn’t the way of the Environment Agency, but why not?

see also Prescription drug residues in natural water sources

and Cutting medicines waste through prescription control

and Wales urges patients to avoid prescription waste

and Presciption numbers rocket to new high

and Drug residues from wastes – the impact on the environment?

and http://www.ianblenkharn.com/?s=prescription





City Hall (Town Hall) bathrooms in the city of Racine, Wisconsin, are to get needle containers.

“Mayor John Dickert and Racine Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox said Thursday that they had been wanting to install the receptacles for a while, especially given the high rate of diabetes in the city and county at large.

“Many diabetics must give themselves daily insulin injections and those injections can often take place when they are away from home.

“The city was also prompted to install the containers after two city employees — a public works employee and a health department employee — each accidentally pricked themselves last year with used syringes.

“The Health Department employee was accidentally pricked while administering a blood draw at the clinic at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave. The incident with the public works employee occurred out in field, when the employee accidentally came in contact with a syringe that had been thrown in the trash, Bowersox said. It was not clear what the needle had been used for, she said.

We just wonder quite how many insulin-dependent diabetics work at or visit City Hall? What are the rest injecting?




A young girl was reportedly “distraught” after finding syringes on her seat on a Melbourne tram seat, according to a witness.

The needles were concealed on her seat, according to a post on the user-generated website reddit.

“The needles were jammed into the back and bottom of the seat, between the cushions. Angled outwards,” the witness explained. “The child was crying and distraught.”

Melbourne’s Yarra Trams confirmed that an incident occurred, but a spokesman insisted that the needles were capped, facing inward, and neither mother or daughter were harmed.

The reddit thread also detailed a new style of game where people jab unwitting strangers with fresh needles “to scare the sh*t out of them”.

“It’s done from behind in the back of the arm or leg,” the user wrote.

“You feel the prick of the needle but might not realise what it is and just think you bumped into something sharp until you see some f***er with a needle”.

Takes all sorts!