Workers in health care facilities are exposed to multiple safety hazards on a daily basis. One of the biggest risks is posed by needles and other sharp objects used in the line of medical duties. The California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes safety regulations related to these dangers and expects the owners and managers of facilities to have adequate programs in place to protect health care workers against the dangers posed by contaminated needles and sharp objects.
Health care workers commonly sustain needlestick injuries in situations in which they are rushed while recapping needles, or they are stuck handling needles that must be removed from a syringe or other piece of equipment after use. While rushing around, medical staff can accidentally bump into a sharp object that is being handled by another person. Whenever a worker’s skin is broken by a sharp object, bloodborne pathogens can enter the injured person’s bloodstream.
Employers must provide as much protection as possible to health care workers, and they must be vigilant in their evaluation of potential hazards. Employees who suffer needlestick injuries are advised take immediate action by cleaning the punctured area. One can never be sure whether any complications will arise, and, for this reason, all needlestick or sharp object injuries must be reported to a supervisor without delay.
The consequences of even the smallest needlestick injury can be devastating and may even need long-term medical care. Health care workers in California are entitled to pursue workers’ compensation benefits to help them with coping with unexpected medical expenses. Furthermore, workers who are unable to return to work for some time may find comfort in knowing the benefits will also provide financial relief to cover a portion of lost wages.
Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, “Preventing needlestick injuries“, Oct. 26, 2015