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Irish Nurses And Midwives Organisation And The European Biosafety Network To Host Joint Summit In Dublin To Highlight Risks From Sharps Injuries And Report On Progress In Preventing Them. 31.05.11

PRESS RELEASE, Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, in conjunction with the European Biosafety Network, will host a Biosafety Summit in the Coach House, Dublin Castle tomorrow, June 1st, commencing at 9.30a.m.to mark European Biosafety Day. The purpose of the Summit is to highlight the potentially fatal risk of sharps injuries across Europe and report on progress with preventing them through effective and practical measures to implement the EU Sharps Directive, published one year ago tomorrow.

The everyday work of healthcare staff puts them at risk of serious infections from more than 30 potentially dangerous pathogens, including hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV, through injuries with contaminated needles and other sharps. The majority of these injuries are preventable with the provision of effective training, safer working procedures and safety engineered medical devices that shield or retract the needle/sharp after use.

As well as medical staff, downstream workers, such as cleaners, laundry staff and refuse collectors and non-healthcare workers are exposed to injuries from contaminated used  medical sharps.

Speakers for the day include Dr Blánaid Hayes, a consultant in Occupational Medicine; Ms Mary Davis, Regional President of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia and who has recently announced her intention to run for President of Ireland; The European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion , Mr Lászl? Andor and MEP’s Ms Marian Harkin and Ms Phil Prendergast.

Also speaking at the Summit are representatives from national and European trade unions, nursing associations and federations and policy makers from the European institutions. 

Speaking on the eve of the Summit, INMO President, Sheila Dickson, who will chair the morning session said: “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. Implementation of this Directive is required of all Member States by May 11, 2013.”

At the Summit in Dublin, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation will publish research on needlestick injuries in Ireland.  The European Biosafety Network will publish a tool kit for the implementation of the European Directive on prevention from sharps injuries in Member States.

Cliff Williams, Chair of the European Biosafety Network commented: “European Biosafety Day demonstrates the importance of immediate action 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.”

Notes to Editors
Sharps Injuries and the EU Directive

Injuries caused by needles and other sharp instruments are one of the most common and serious risks to healthcare workers in Europe and represent a high cost for health systems and society in general. According to healthcare experts, such injuries occur more than 1 million times per year, partly causing very serious consequences and sometimes leading to serious diseases. 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 (Council Directive 2010/32/EU) sets up an integrated approach to assessing and preventing risks and to training and informing workers. If a risk assessment reveals a risk of injury, the workers' exposure must be eliminated by taking measures such as implementing safe procedures for using and disposing of sharp medical instruments and disposing of contaminated waste, eliminating the unnecessary use of sharps and banning the practice of recapping. 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 


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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie