February 11, 2019

Safest Year Yet

The confetti from New Year’s celebrations has been swept away, but it’s not too late to make a New Year’s resolution. Looking for a great place to start? Create a culture of safety and health in your work environment to kick off the New Year properly.

A key area to pay attention to is waste management. Protecting employees from sharps-related injuries is a top safety challenge healthcare organizations continue to face. According to the CDC, an estimated 385,000 sharps-related injuries happen every year among healthcare workers, and that’s just in hospitals alone. When looking at the greater healthcare environment outside of acute care settings, the number of these injuries nearly doubles.

When needles aren’t disposed of properly, the risk of injury grows exponentially — for clinicians, doctors, surgical staff and others such as environmental services staff. For example, if a sharps container becomes overfilled, a nurse could receive a sharps injury by accident during disposal. The impact can go beyond the employee’s physical injury, increasing risk for disease transmission as well as mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

By creating a culture of safety carefully designed from appropriate sharp usage to disposal, healthcare organizations can ensure a safer work environment and promote better health, well-being and quality of life for employees. Here are three ways to get started:

Ask employees to help choose the right containers for sharps disposal at your facility. Seek the input of clinicians, infection control specialists and environmental services (depending on your type of facility) in determining which containers to use and how to encourage correct use. Consider not only federal guidelines, but also the layout of the organization, its practices and protocols.

Train employees on how to prevent sharps injury–regardless of role. Offer educational programs that highlight the roles all employees play in preventing accidental needle sticks and other sharps injuries.

Invite team members from a variety of disciplines to identify opportunities to improve safety. At one hospital, employees from environmental services, nursing and pharmacy toured the operating room once a week, looking for ways to improve safety. The result: decreased incidences of needlesticks and improved turnaround times for the OR.

Striving for a better culture of safety should be top of mind for all healthcare organizations— regardless of care setting or organization type — now and throughout the year ahead. Learn how Stericycle can help reduce staff exposure to needlesticks and improve sustainability at your organization. Call 855-602-6279 for more information.

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