Work-related sharps injury

There are several legal and paralegal firms in the UK now getting wise to the high rate of sharps injury to healthcare professionals and others. They offer low-cost or no-win no-fee services and right now the advertising is pretty bullish.

Discarded sharpsOutside the UK, specialist sharps injury insurance is available and to match this lawyers are highly active in claims for these mostly preventable injuries. Indeed, in several countries it is first nature to turn to the courts having suffered a sharps injury and there is no reason to expect that we will not go down the same route.

With a high incidence of sharps injury in the waste industries, by some accounts at a rate (measured in injuries per man hour) greater than that for front line healthcare staff we should expect an increase in claims. The cost to employers might be high.

Almost every sharps injury is preventable and those in the waste industries are no exception. Effective PPE items are available. It is simply not acceptable to blame others for leaving exposed sharps when precautionary approaches to safe working are not properly applied and supervision is low.

Without question, the most effective answer is to ensure safe systems of work, to provide suitable PPE items and to insist on its use. This should be reinforced with suitable training, periodic update training and regular audit to ensure compliance. It’s the cheaper option, and safer for all concerned.

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