Latest News from BPCA

30 April 2020

Sharps! Needlestick injury awareness for pest professionals

Health and Safety | PPC99 May 2020

Katie Martinelli from High Speed Training talks us through mitigating the risks of needle stick injuries when carrying out pest management work.

sharps-injury-awareness

Around 100,000 needlestick injuries are reported every year in the UK. BPCA gets numerous reports of near misses from members who found abandoned needles in rodent monitoring boxes and around the exterior of buildings they’re surveying.

A needlestick or sharps injury could have severe mental and health consequences. Therefore, it’s vital that you take appropriate actions to eliminate or reduce the risk of an injury. To help achieve this, you must carry out a sharps risk assessment.

This article will outline the steps involved in a sharps risk assessment and provide a template so you can effectively carry out a risk assessment for your establishment.

What are sharps?

A sharp is any item that could result in a cut or puncture wound. This includes:

  • Needles and hypodermic needles
  • Syringes
  • Scalpels
  • Blades, including knives and saws
  • Infusion sets used for insulin delivery
  • Broken glass.

A sharps injury occurs when a sharps object penetrates the skin. There are several risks associated with sharps injuries, and an accidental puncture could have serious mental and physical repercussions.

Some risks attached to sharps injuries:

  • Exposure to blood-borne viruses (BBVs) and other pathogens including HIV, hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV). Even very small amounts of bodily fluids on a sharp can transmit diseases.
  • Psychological stress – testing after exposure to bodily fluids from a sharps injury can be very stressful. This can last for several months and seriously impact the individual and their family.
  • Financial repercussions – your business could face serious financial repercussions after an injury, including lost working time, investigation costs
  • and re-hiring costs.

Sharps regulations

There are several pieces of legislation that cover the safe use and disposal of sharps instruments in the UK.

To comply with the law, a competent person must carry out a sharps risk assessment, identify hazards and risks and decide on controls.

This person might be you, or it might be another nominated person, but it’s important that appropriate risk assessments are carried out for your establishment.

There are several risks associated with sharps injuries, and an accidental puncture could have serious mental and physical repercussions.

Katie Martinelli, High Speed Training

Five steps to a sharps risk assessment

1. Identify the hazards

You should start your risk assessment by identifying all potential hazards in the workplace.

For pest professionals, think about:

  • External bait boxes
  • Any inspection work, especially externally
  • Public parks or common areas
  • In or around rubbish bins
  • Any setting that your common sense tells you might be high risk.

When working with needles and sharps, you may be exposed to blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B and C and HIV. A sharps-related injury always carries the risk of a blood-borne virus.

Additionally, you must also consider other hazards, including the stress and anxiety that could result from having blood tests and treatment after an incident.

Some sharps devices will carry a higher risk of transmitting a disease, for example:

  • Needles, especially hollow bore needles
  • IV cannulas
  • Winged steel needles, also known as butterfly needles
  • Phlebotomy needles.

You will need to consider this elevated risk when you complete your risk assessment. A competent person will survey your workplace and identify all hazards.

2. Decide who might be harmed and how

Any pest professional who regularly works around high-risk areas or is involved in checking external monitoring boxes is at risk of a sharps-related injury.

Remember that sharps legislation covers both directly employed staff members and some self-employed workers, including contract and agency workers.

Therefore, ensure you consider these workers during your risk assessment.

3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

You should make all reasonable effort to remove or reduce the possibility of exposure to the hazards you have identified.

The best possible way to prevent an injury is to eliminate the risk. This may not be possible as you’ll have no control over where an abandoned needle might be.

If you cannot completely eliminate the hazards, you should take all necessary actions to reduce and control the risks. For example, you should:

  • Immunise your employees against hepatitis B
  • Always unlock the bait box and open it from the top and never stick your hands inside any other opening
  • Inspect carefully, giving the situation your full attention and using your torch to make sure you can see any potential hazards
  • Train your employees on the risks, as well as the proper use and disposal of sharps equipment
  • Ensure appropriate sharps bins are in place in your van
  • Enforce the use of appropriate PPE, where necessary
  • Have a needlestick injury prevention committee.

4. Record your findings and implement them

You should document all the information from your risk assessment, including the control methods you have decided on, and use this as an action plan to reduce the risk of an injury.

Depending on the size of the organisation, you might need to carry out more than one risk assessment, ie per job type, or high risk area.

You should share the results of your risk assessment with all the employees you have identified as ‘at risk’.

5. Monitor performance and review

Periodically review and update your risk assessment to ensure that it remains up to date and effective.

You should use accident reports to identify areas you missed during your risk assessment and use the information to update your controls.

If you cannot completely eliminate the hazards, you should take all necessary actions to reduce and control the risks.

Katie Martinelli, High Speed Training

Tell your doctor!

You should make your GP aware that you work in the pest management industry and carry a card that explains the nature of your work.

BPCA has a leptospirosis and ornithosis card, which you can contact the team to request. 

Further information could be made available on the types of chemicals used, the hazards faced (including needlestick injuries), and details of medical immunisations.

The information you provide will assist a doctor in taking account of the possibility of disease, for example leptospirosis or ornithosis, and in deciding on any necessary treatments.

You should have regular health checks, especially if you are using organo-phosphorus compounds.

You should be immunised against tetanus; a booster injection being required every 10 years.

If your risk assessment suggests you’re at high risk of needlestick injuries you should also consider a jab for hepatitis.

Needles and sharps training

High Speed Training offers an online needles and sharps training course that is available for £25 per user.

The needles and sharps training course teaches those working around needles and sharps how to use and dispose of them safely to reduce the likelihood of an injury.

It outlines the risks associated with sharps use, as well as what practices should be avoided and the actions that should be taken in the event of an accident.

Discounts are available for multiple bookings.

MORE INFORMATION

0333 006 7000
info@highspeedtraining.co.uk
highspeedtraining.co.uk/health-and-safety/needles-and-sharps-training.aspx

Source: PPC99

Highlights View all news

19 November 2020

Latest news

BPCA launch new online accreditation: Certificated Advanced Technician (CAT) in Pest Management

BPCA is proud to launch a new accreditation for pest professionals who have passed their Level 2 Award and want to demonstrate their advanced industry experience.  The Certificated Advance

Read more

02 November 2020

Latest news

Covid-19 second wave and what pest companies need to know

Covid-19 cases are spiking across the UK, with the country now seeing around 20,000 cases a day and roughly 46,000 deaths linked to the disease. England recorded

Read more

02 November 2020

Latest news

UPDATED: Advice for pest professionals operating during Covid-19 pandemic

This article is not a replacement for the guidance given by medical professionals nor official advice provided by the UK Government on Covid-19. You must always follow the latest Government adv

Read more
Latest View all news

19 November 2020

Latest news

BPCA launch new online accreditation: Certificated Advanced Technician (CAT) in Pest Management

BPCA is proud to launch a new accreditation for pest professionals who have passed their Level 2 Award and want to demonstrate their advanced industry experience.  The Certificated Advance

Read more

18 November 2020

Latest news

Killgerm sponsored PhD research looking for applicants

A fantastic opportunity to apply for a fully funded University of Reading PhD research project on rodents, pathogens and antimicrobial resistance is now available. The research, sponsored

Read more

17 November 2020

Latest news

Guest blog: Contego mental health champion appointed

In this guest blog, Laura Galloway, from BPCA member company Contego, talks about how the negative impacts of Covid-19 restrictions inspired the business to appoint a mental health champion for empl

Read more