Needlestick or sharps injuries are a significant risk to those working in the health and social care sector; for both those who directly handle sharps and those who may be inadvertently exposed to a risk of injury if medical instruments are not appropriately stored or disposed of.
Sharps include needles (hollow-bore, winged steel-butterfly, phlebotomy), blades, syringes, scalpels and other types of medical instruments used for carrying out healthcare work and can cause cutting or pricking injuries to the skin. A sharps injury can also be referred to as a percutaneous injury.
Sharps contaminated with an infected patient’s blood can transmit in excess of twenty diseases including: hepatitis B, C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Due to the risk of disease transmission the anxiety and stress experienced by the health or social care workers following a needlestick or sharps injury can be significant.
Transmission depends upon a number of factors, including the injured worker’s own immune system. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) reports that the number of needlestick or sharps injuries each year is high but that the number of infections that eventually lead to serious illness is thankfully low. However, the anxiety and stress following a needlestick or sharps injury can be extremely distressing and occasionally adverse side effects to post-exposure treatment (prophylaxis) can have a significant impact upon the health and well-being of the health or social care worker.
Duty of care
All employers are required to ensure that risks from sharps injuries are adequately assessed and appropriate control measures are in place. The Sharp Instruments in Healthcare Regulations 2013 provide specific details on requirements that must be taken by healthcare employers and their contractors.
If the accident at work was caused by the negligent acts of another member of staff it is still possible to bring a claim for compensation.
Employment legal issues related to injury
Our legal team can also assist with any employment law issues that may arise as a result of a needlestick or sharps accident at work. If you are dismissed or suffer a “detriment” because you have reported a health and safety issue or bring a claim for personal injury then you could also have an employment claim.
Time limit to make a claim
Compensation claims should generally be made within three years from the date of accident, although there are a few exceptions, which our legal team will be able to advise you upon such as the date of knowledge if an illness is detected at a later date.
If you or a loved one have been injured at work due to a needlestick or sharps accident and you would like to make a claim for compensation please speak to a member of our Personal Injury (PI) team on Freephone: 0808 164 0808 for a FREE, no-obligation chat or complete the request a call back form and we will call you.