The Prevention of Sharps Injuries in the Healthcare Sector Regulations (S.I. 135 of 2014) and related Dental Council guidance on sharps management can be overlooked in a busy practice.
In this context “sharps” refers to any objects used in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease that might cause a puncture wound or cut the skin. In the dental surgery the main sharps items are needles, LA cartridges, burs, scaler tips, scalpel blades, suture needles, used matrix bands, and endodontic files.
The legislation places a significant duty of care on each employer to ensure a safe workplace. In addition, it places essential responsibilities on employees to proactively approach safety at work. Employees are required to be familiar with safety policies and procedures.
Each practice must have a sharps injury policy in place. This policy must be informed by a “practice specific” sharps risk assessment.
The main points flagged by the Sharps Injuries Regulations are:
- Elimination / Reduction in the use of sharps
- Implementation of safe procedures
- Safe disposal
- Information and Training
- Incident Management
- Post Exposure Practices
Refer to the Health & Safety Authority’s (www.hsa.ie) guidance https://bit.ly/2J6l5YD for the detail. The HSA has the power of unannounced inspection to ensure compliance with all matters Health and Safety.