Working in a hospital, you’re constantly exposed to hazards on the job. One of them that may be overlooked because of the seemingly greater hazards is exposure to needles. There are probably sharps containers all around your workplace, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be at risk of coming into contact with another person’s bodily fluids or blood.
Bloodborne pathogens can be dangerous to you, so it’s essential that you and others in the workplace dispose of them properly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that sharps and needles should never be recapped, bent or have the needles removed when contaminated unless there is no other alternative or the act is necessary as a part of a medical procedure.
Needlesticks and other sharps injuries could affect up to 5.6 million people working in health care, exposing them to dangerous bloodborne pathogens. These pathogens may include:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Hepatitis C
- Hepatitis B
Data from the Exposure Prevention Information Network states that these injuries happen most often in patient rooms and in the operating room. This makes sense, since those who work with sharps, which include any items such as hypodermic needles, scalpels, sutures, phlebotomy devices or blood collection devices, are at the greatest risk of injury.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that around 385,000 sharps injuries take place annually in hospitals alone. Safe handling and disposal techniques can help, but there are a variety of factors that can cause these injuries. If you are cut or pierced by a sharp medical tool, seek immediate care. You need to address the possible pathogens that may have entered your body. Workers’ compensation should cover any medical care you need as a result of this injury on the job.