News

European Healthcare Workers say major problems still need to be addressed to prevent sharps injuries

Today at the 4th European Biosafety Summit in Warsaw results from 7,000 Healthcare workers show that, although the new Sharps Directive has improved practice in the workplace, in reality a lack of an explicit ban on recapping, lack of risk assessments, access to safety devices and lack of education and awareness raising are still major problems that need to be addressed.

This year’s Summit is held in the Polish Parliament, with a keynote address by the Polish Deputy Health Minister Igor Radziewicz-Winnicki 6 months after the deadline for Member States to transpose and implement the EU Council Directive on prevention of sharps injuries in the hospital and health care sector (2010/32/EU).

The results of a survey of European nurses will be presented by Paul De Raeve, General Secretary of the European Federation of Nurses Associations (EFN). The feedback from almost 7,000 respondents across Europe suggests that in the workplace the majority of nurses are seeing some positive progress towards meeting the requirements of the Directive. Approximately 70 per cent of respondents indicated that they had access to safety engineered devices, but only for certain procedures. Regrettably 30 per cent had no access whatsoever to safety devices.

Other areas of concern include a scarcity of workplace risk assessments and the absence of awareness raising and training specific to preventing sharps injuries. Also, the provision of training in the correct use of safety engineered devices appears very variable and, in general, nurses are not being involved in identifying the most suitable safety devices prior to purchase. 

The required ban on the recapping of needles has, surprisingly, not been implemented in some workplaces. A clear warning signal is also apparent concerning the protection of workers who deliver healthcare in community settings and in long-term care homes, where little seems to have been done to comply with the directive.

Cliff Williams, Co-Chair of the European Biosafety Network, said:

"I am delighted that we are co-hosting a 4th European Biosafety Summit in Warsaw six months after the legislation has come into force; this is a great opportunity for people who will have worked for many years to help achieve these legislative requirements to come together and ensure that the Directive is implemented effectively.

The results of a survey of 7,000 healthcare workers published today show the positive benefits of the new Sharps Directive but that there are major problems in practical implementation which still need to be addressed. It is disturbing that more than 40 percent of respondents to the survey have themselves suffered an injury with a used needle.”

Workers, employers, policy makers and politicians will join together to emphasise the critical importance of preventing life-threatening risks faced on a daily basis by those that care for others. It is estimated that approximately 1.2 million occupational needlestick injuries occur in the EU every year. These injuries can result in the transmission of more than thirty dangerous infections, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

The timing of the Summit will provide the perfect opportunity to provide an update on the transposition and implementation of the Directive and the practical steps that employers and workers are taking to comply with it, as well as challenges being faced in the Member States.

Also speaking at the Summit are representatives from the European Commission, national and European trades unions, nursing associations and federations and policy makers from the European institutions. The Summit follows on from the success of past European Biosafety Summits held in Madrid, Dublin and London.

The EU Directive on prevention from sharps injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector was adopted by the European Council of Ministers on 11 May 2010 and was published in the European Journal (OJEU) on 1 June 2010. Each Member State was required to bring into force national legislation to implement the Directive by 11 May 2013.

 

Agenda announced for 4th European Biosafety Summit

The 4th European Biosafety Summit will be held at the Polish Parliament in Warsaw.

Following the success of previous Summits held in Madrid, Dublin and London, this year’s summit will be held approximately 6 months after the deadline for Member States to transpose and implement the EU Council Directive on prevention of sharps injuries in the hospital and health care sector (2010/32/EU).

The timing of the Summit will provide the perfect opportunity to provide an update on the transposition and implementation of the Directive and the practical steps that employers and workers are taking to comply with it, as well as challenges being faced in the Member States. The European Federation of Nurses Associations will present the results of a questionnaire on practical implementation in the workplace in the various Member States and there will also be a presentation analysing the legal transposition of the Directive by Member States.

Most attendees of the Summit will have worked for many years to help achieve legislative requirements. We now need to ensure that the Directive is effectively applied so that all the workers in Europe finally receive the protection that they deserve.

The European Biosafety Network was established in 2010 as a virtual network of national and European professional institutions, representative associations, unions and other interested organisations. It is committed to the elimination of sharps injuries throughout the EU to improve the safety of patients and healthcare and non-healthcare workers. The majority of injuries have been proven to be avoidable with the implementation of effective education and training of workers, the promotion of best and safer practices and the use of safety engineered medical technologies.

 

Online questionnaire launched on implementation of the European Sharps Directive

The European Federation of Nurses Associations has launched an online questionnaire about the implementation of the European Sharps Directive and details are set out below. We would be very grateful if you would take a moment to complete the online questionnaire through the embedded link below.

Dear colleagues,
Dear healthcare professionals,

On 2nd December, the European Biosafety Summit, taking place in Warsaw, will discuss the state of implementation of Directive 2010/32/EU on Sharp Injuries into Member States national legislation.
To that end, the EFN is launching an online questionnaire aimed to reach healthcare professionals working in the field, in daily practice. The aim is to understand how the Directive plays out into your daily practice. The results will be analysed and compiled in a report that will be presented at the Biosafety Summit.
The online questionnaire takes 10 minutes and is available in the following languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Danish, Dutch English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Spanish. You just need to follow the link and select the language you prefer. We kindly ask you to disseminate the questionnaire among your networks!
It will be opened until 10th November 2013.
Thanks for your collaboration,

Best regards,
Paul De Raeve
EFN General Secretary

Registration open for European Biosafety Summit

Registration is now open for the 4th Annual European Biosafety Summit which will be held in Warsaw on Monday 2 December. The Summit is a one day event and will be held at the Polish Parliament.

The European Biosafety Summit will focus on Members States’ experiences of transposition, implementation and compliance of the European Sharps Directive. The Summit is intended to further raise awareness of the serious health risks caused by sharps injuries and will look at practical steps that employers and workers have taken since transposition of the Directive in May 2013. A number of speakers, including representatives of the European Commission, the Polish Department of Health and Parliament, Nursing Associations, Trades Unions, Employers and European Member States, will address the audience.

The Summit is free to attend but places will be limited, if you would like to attend you must register your interest in advance. The Summit is due to commence with registration at 9.00 and to conclude at 16.00 on 2 December.

To register your interest please download the invitation below and follow the instructions. The Summit programme and further details will be sent to delegates at a later stage.

EBN toolkit on the implementation of the European Directive on Sharp Injuries

The European Biosafety Network has produced a detailed toolkit to ensure the effective and consistent implementation of the European Directive on the Prevention of Sharp Injuries (2010/32/EU).

It is estimated that more than one million needlestick injuries occur in the European Union each year, and this toolkit provides advice and guidance on both the provisions of the Directive and the measures which employers and workers need to take in order to comply. A detailed risk assessment, information and awareness-raising, specific training, effective reporting of injuries and a collaborative approach between management and staff are all needed in order to ensure adherence to the Directive.

The toolkit is now available to be downloaded here.

Nursing Times: Unison demands action over nurse needle injuries

The government is being urged to end the "horror" caused to NHS nurses, midwives and other health workers by injuries from needles.

Unison said thousands of incidents could be avoided if safer needles were introduced in hospitals and other areas of the NHS.

The union is hosting a safety summit in London, where health representatives from across Europe will discuss the progress of an EU Directive designed to reduce the number of injuries.

Unison's head of health, Christina McAnea, said: "An EU Directive in 2009 set May 2013 as the deadline for the introduction of safer needles across the European union. But why wait till then to stop the misery of needlestick injuries?

"It is about time the government stopped dragging its heels and introduced safer needles across the NHS now.

"Deaths are fortunately rare, but many thousands of workers are left terrified that they may have contracted a serious infection from dirty needles such as Hepatitis or HIV. In addition, the mental and actual cost of treating these injuries to the NHS is huge. Each of the 85,000 sharps injuries in the UK leads to time lost while workers get treatment or take time off to recover.

"It leads to expensive treatments and increased legal costs, as well as untold distress to victims and their families."

Read the article here »

Registration open for European Biosafety Summit

Registration is now open for the 3rd Annual European Biosafety Summit which will be held in London on Friday 1 June 2012. The Summit is a one day event and will be held in central London at the UNISON Centre.

The European Biosafety Summit will look at the state of implementation of the Directive in Member States and publicise guidance on implementation drafted by the social partners and a practical toolkit for workers and employers in the field. Speakers, will include representatives of the European Commission, EU-OSHA, the Health and Safety Executive and the Social Partners, EPSU and HOSPEEM.

The Summit is free to attend but places will be limited, if you would like to attend you must register your interest in advance. Places will then be allocated to delegates by the end of March. The Summit is due to commence with registration at 08.30 and to conclude at 16.30 on 1 June 2012.

To register your interest please download the invitation below and follow the instructions. The Summit programme and further details will be sent to delegates at a later stage.

European Biosafety Summit, London, 1 June 2012

The European Biosafety Network and UNISON will be hosting the 3rd Annual European Biosafety Summit in London on Friday 1 June 2012. The Summit is a one day event and will be held in central London at the UNISON Centre.

A number of keynote speakers, including representatives of the European Commission, EU-OSHA, the Health and Safety Executive and the Social Partners, EPSU and HOSPEEM, will address the audience as well as a victim of needlestick injury.

The European Biosafety Summit will focus on the state of implementation of the Directive in Member States and as a platform to publicise guidance on implementation drafted by the social partners and a practical toolkit for workers and employers in the field. The Summit is intended to further raise awareness of the serious health risks caused by sharps injuries and practical steps that employers and workers can take to prepare for the implementation of the Directive by 11 May 2013.

The Summit is by invitation only and free to attend. The Summit is due to commence with registration at 08.30 and to conclude at 16.30 on 1 June 2012. The Summit programme and further details will follow.

Further details and the full programme will be released soon.

EBN toolkit now available in Spanish, German, Italian and French

In order to assist with the effective and consistent implementation of the necessary measures in all EU Member States, the European Biosafety Network has published a tool kit for the implementation of the European Directive on prevention from sharps injuries (2010/32/EU).

The toolkit is now available to download below in Spanish, German, Italian and French as well as in English.

EU-OSHA publishes guidance on risk assessment and needlestick injuries

Workers in the healthcare sector are at risk from needlestick or sharp injury. Such injuries are of concern as the worker may become infected by blood-borne pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi and other micro-organisms). The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and hepatitis B (HBV) or C (HCV) are the commonest risks, but there are more than 20 blood-borne diseases that may be transmitted.

In Europe, it is estimated that there are 1 million needlestick injuries annually. It is not just medical professionals who are at risk. While nurses working in acute medical situations are identified as being at the highest risk, many other workers have the potential to sustain these injuries. For example, auxiliary staff such as cleaners and laundry staff can also be at significant risk.

The EU Directive to prevent sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector

To address this problem a directive 2010/32/EU was adopted. This directive implements the Framework Agreement on prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector signed by the European social partners HOSPEEM (the European hospital and healthcare employers' association) and EPSU (the European Federation of Public Services Unions).

The objective of the directive is to achieve the safest possible working environment by preventing injuries to workers caused by all medical sharps (including needlesticks) and protecting workers at risk in the hospital and healthcare sector.

This can be achieved by putting in place the following preventive and protection measures:

  • eliminating the unnecessary use of sharps
  • providing medical devices
  • incorporating safety-engineered protection mechanisms
  • implementing safe systems of work
  • implementing safe procedures for using and disposing medical sharps
  • banning the recapping
  • using personal protective equipment
  • vaccination
  • information and training

EBN calls for action to be taken now at Government and EU level

The European Biosafety Network has called for immediate action to prevent potentially life-threatening needlestick injuries among healthcare workers.

Speaking at the 2nd European Biosafety Summit, held in Dublin on June 1st, Cliff Williams, Chair of the European Biosafety Network, said immediate action was needed to protect workers and patients:

"On a daily basis, patients and workers are at risk from potentially fatal blood-borne viruses through sharps injuries. We must unite to ensure that the sharps directive is implemented without delay."

The summit was jointly hosted by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the European Biosafety Network. INMO President Sheila Dickson said the Irish Government and governments across Europe must implement the EU Sharps Directive as soon as possible to protect workers from the potentially fatal risk of 'sharps' injuries among healthcare workers:

"It is no longer acceptable that healthcare, and non-healthcare staff and patients are at risk of potentially life threatening sharps injuries which are easily preventable. We need to create awareness among workers of these risks and we are calling on the Irish Government, and Governments across Europe, to implement the EU Sharps Directive which sets up an integrated approach to assessing and preventing risks and to training and informing workers."

The Summit noted that the majority of these injuries were preventable with the provision of effective training, safer working procedures and safety-engineered medical devices that shield or retract the needle after use.

NEWS RELEASE: 2nd European Biosafety Summit

Workers, employers, policy makers and politicians from across Europe unite at the European Biosafety Summit to support the prevention of potentially fatal occupational injuries faced by healthcare and public service workers

The European Biosafety Summit held today will highlight the risk of potentially fatal injuries from used needles and other medical sharps and report on what progress is being made to prevent them through the implementation of measures in line with the EU Directive on preventing sharps injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector, published one year ago today.

Workers, employers, policy makers and politicians will join together to emphasise the critical importance of preventing life-threatening risks faced on a daily basis by those that care for others. It is estimated that approximately 1.2 million occupational needlestick injuries occur in the EU every year. These injuries can result in the transmission of more than thirty dangerous infections, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Laszlo Andor will address the Summit alongside the Irish Minister of Health and Children, Dr James Reilly.

Also speaking at the Summit are representatives from the European Parliament, national and European trades unions, nursing associations and federations and policy makers from the European institutions. The Summit follows on from the success of the 1st European Biosafety Summit held in Madrid last year.

Cliff Williams, Co-Chair of the European Biosafety Network, said:

"People are suffering all over Europe from injuries and emotional stress that can easily be prevented. The EU Directive, once implemented, will help to protect workers and patients – it is no longer acceptable to let these easily preventable injuries continue to occur. It is exploitation of hard working people dedicated to caring for others."

The 2nd European Biosafety Summit will also call on national governments to implement the EU Directive on prevention from sharps injuries through national legislation without delay or compromise.

In order to assist with the effective and consistent implementation of the necessary measures in all EU Member States, the European Biosafety Network has published a tool kit for the implementation of the European Directive on prevention from sharps injuries (2010/32/EU).

Soon to be published UK research, from a survey of NHS occupational health, and health and safety staff shows there is wide consensus (73%) that the fear of needlestick injury and associated health risks causes significant stress amongst healthcare workers. The independent study from MindMetre Research found that 87% of respondents believe that the use of safety devices should be mandatory to ensure healthcare worker safety and 73% think that the only way to dramatically reduce needlestick injury is to introduce comprehensive use of safety devices.

The EU Directive on prevention from sharps injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector was adopted by the European Council of Ministers on 11 May 2010 and was published in the European Journal (OJEU) on 1 June 2010. Each EU Member State is required to bring into force national legislation to implement the Directive by 11 May 2013 at the latest.

 

EBN publishes Injection Safety Implementation Update

This is the first in a series of publications that will share experiences, implementation challenges and best practices using information provided through the Network. Effective information exchange between the various stakeholders involved should contribute to a consistent and effective implementation of the Directive across the European Union to benefit all healthcare workers and patients.

The first update looks at Injection Safety:

If you would like to suggest a topic to be coverered in future Implementation Updates, or have a best practice case study you would like to share please send it to info@europeanbiosafetynetwork.eu

European Biosafety Summit, Dublin, 1 June 2011

The European Biosafety Network and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organsiation will be hosting the European Biosafety Summit in Dublin on Wednesday 1 June 2011. The Summit is a 1 day event and will be held in the Coach House, Dublin Castle.

A number of keynote speakers, including the Irish Minister for Health and Children, the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor (tbc) and representatives from European Member States will address the audience.

The European Biosafety Summit will highlight the impact of sharps injuries and report on progress within the Member States and across Europe towards implementation of the Sharps Directive and its transposition into national legislation. The Summit will discuss components of a practical toolkit for implementation and a Blueprint for Action drafted by the European Biosafety Network.

The Summit is free to attend and lunch and refreshments will be provided. However, attendees will need to arrange and meet the costs of their own travel and accommodation. The programme and further details will follow.

For further information, please contact Marian Godley, INMO: marian@inmo.ie or +353 1 6640642.

View the Summit Programme here.

EBN publish leaflet on achieving rapid and comprehensive implementation

The European Biosafety Network has today published a guide to help workers achieve rapid and comprehensive implementation of the European Directive. The EU Directive will ensure the safest possible working environment for healthcare workers through prevention from sharps injuries and gives a legal effect to a framework agreement concluded by the employers and the trade unions of the hospital and healthcare sector (HOSPEEM and EPSU) on 17 July 2009. The guide is available here:

For more information please refer to the European Biosafety Network's Guidance paper: Prevention of Sharps Injuries in the Hospital and Healthcare Sector, Implementation Guidance for the EU Framework Agreement, Council Directive and Associated National Legislation. This can be found along with other information about the Directive in the resources section of the website.

Don't forget the EBN Guidance for Implementation is now available in English, French, Italian, Spanish and German.

European Biosafety Network guidance published in French & Italian

The European Biosafety Network is pleased to announce that the guidance for implementation of the Directive issued earlier this year is now available in French and Italian. The Guidance is now available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish and further translations will be available soon and will be available in the resources section of the website.

You can also download the EBN guidance for implementation here:

EBN publish Summary of the EU Directive and Implementation Guidance

The European Biosafety Network has today published a Summary guide to implementing, and meeting the requirements of the EU Directive which aims to achieve the safest possible working environment for healthcare workers through prevention from sharps injuries. The directive gives legal effect to a framework agreement concluded by the employers and the trade unions of the hospital and healthcare sector (HOSPEEM and EPSU) on 17 July 2009. The Summary is available here:

For further information please refer to the European Biosafety Network's Guidance paper: Prevention of Sharps Injuries in the Hospital and Healthcare Sector, Implementation Guidance for the EU Framework Agreement, Council Directive and Associated National Legislation.

This can be found along with other information about the Directive in the resources section of the website.

European Biosafety Network guidance published in German & Spanish

The European Biosafety Network is pleased to announce that the guidance for implementation of the Directive issued earlier this year in English is now also available in German and Spanish. Further translations will be available soon and will be available in the resources section of the website.

You can also download the EBN guidance for implementation here:

Network delegation meets European Commissioner

A delegation from the European Biosafety Network, together with Stephen Hughes MEP, met last week in Strasbourg with Commissioner Andor, who is responsible for the implementation of the recently published Sharps Directive.

The delegation updated the Commissioner on the European Biosafety Summit held in Madrid in June. It also took the opportunity to highlight the Network's priorities of raising awareness of the Directive to employers and employees, ensuring consistent, effective and prompt implementation of the Directive, disseminating the Network's Implementation Guidelines on the Directive to Member States and encouraging other occupational groups to adopt the Directive as best practice.

The delegation sought the Commissioners endorsement of these priorities, asked that he encourage the adoption of the Network's implementation guidelines and raised the issue of funding to facilitate effective implementation of the Directive in Member States. The Commissioner said that he was very grateful for the Network addressing these priorities and undertook to consult with colleagues in the Commission and respond to the Network's specific proposals.

Delegation member and Co-Chair of the European Biosafety Summit, Cliff Williams, said:

"We are very grateful for the Commissioner giving some of his valuable time to talk with us about a shared goal – the effective and consistent implementation of the Directive. We hope we persuaded him of the logic that the Directive should also be adopted as best practice across all effected workplaces, in addition to the very important healthcare sector which it directly addresses, rather than having to tackle the issue of needlestick injury occupational group by occupational group. We share the same objectives as the European Commission and the meeting was a good opportunity to propose ways of working together to achieve those shared objectives."

National Governments must implement new EU Sharps Directive by legislating quickly

Leaders of European, national and international organisations representing healthcare workers and national and international academic experts agreed that urgent and decisive implementation of the new Directive is needed to prevent potentially fatal or life-changing infections.

The 1st European Biosafety Summit, hosted by the European Biosafety Network in Madrid, stated in its 'Call for Action' that national governments must implement the EU Sharps Directive through national legislation without delay or compromise. National legislation is the most effective route to fully implement the requirements of the Directive and there must be significant penalties for non or late compliance. This 'Call for Action' comes at a critical time as over 500 people have this week been asked to undergo testing, by three hospital trusts in North and East Yorkshire, following the discovery that a healthcare worked who treated them may have been infected with HIV.

The Summit concluded that there was a need for an integrated approach to implementation of the Directive. Comprehensive user training, safer working practices and the use of medical devices incorporating safety-engineered protection mechanisms have been proven by independent studies to prevent the majority of needlestick injuries. Studies have also shown that failure to implement any one of these three elements results in a significantly reduced impact.

EBN requests comments and feedback on draft Call for Action

Following on from the 1st European Biosafety Summit which took place in Madrid, 1st-2nd June, the European Biosafety Network has drawn together the outputs of the conference and drafted A Call for Action.

The Network is asking for the input of those who took part in the Summit before Wednesday 23rd June, after which the Call for Action will be published.

You can submit your comments by emailing info@europeanbiosafetynetwork.eu or by completing the form on the Contact page.

Sharps Directive published in Official Journal of the European Union

The final version of the EU Sharps Directive was published today (1 June 2010) in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Directive gives legal effect to a framework agreement concluded by the European Hospital and Healthcare Employers' Association (HOSPEEM) and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) through the social dialogue process.

Now that the Directive has been published it will come into legal force on 21 June 2010 and must be implemented within Member States at the latest by 11 May 2013.

Still time to register for the 1st European Biosafety Summit

There is still time to register for the 1st European Biosafety Summit in Madrid, which runs 1st-2nd June. This first EU Biosafety Summit is an important public expression of the European social commitment to the prevention of risks associated with blood-borne diseases, which have a huge impact on the health of the workers and the citizens of European Union.

The Summit will feature presentations from European professional institutions, representative associations, unions and other interested organisations committed to the elimination of sharps injuries throughout the EU.

The Summit is free to attend, please email info@europeanbiosafetynetwork.eu to register your interest.

Rules on sharps adopted by Council of the European Union

The Council today adopted a directive aimed at achieving the safest possible working environment for healthcare workers through prevention from sharps injuries. The new directive gives legal effect to a framework agreement concluded by the employers and the trade unions of the hospital and healthcare sector (HOSPEEM and EPSU) on 17 July 2009.

The directive sets up an integrated approach to assessing and preventing risks and to training and informing workers. Member states have three years in which to transpose the new directive into national law.

 

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