Safety Sharps: What’s the Point?

Mayo Clinic is passionate about reducing employee exposures to blood-borne pathogens and has established the Blood-Borne Pathogen Exposure Reduction Subcommittee (BBPERS) to oversee the program. There are various members who represent areas of the practice that are most likely impacted by blood-borne pathogens, including nursing, occupational health, infection prevention and control, occupational safety, as well as research and clinical laboratories. BBPERS acquires, evaluates, records, tracks exposure events and their causes, and identifies and promotes safer products and work practices. The group is also responsible for the annual review and update of the Mayo Clinic–Rochester Blood-Borne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan and related educational activities. The Blood-Borne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan is designed to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure to human blood, body fluids, or other potentially infectious materials by complying with the OSHA Blood-Borne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 1910.1030 and Standard Precautions.

As part of BBPERS' commitment to share information and resources, this recent article from Healthcare Purchasing News was shared with me, and I thought that our readers would also find it interesting: "Sharps Safety Calls for Aggressive Passive Design: Safety-Engineered Devices Should Be the Norm, Not Exception, Advocates Urge."

This article prompted me to do some searching, and I found some more great articles and information on blood-borne pathogens and sharps-injury reduction:

Protection of health care workers against exposure to blood-borne pathogens via needlesticks, other sharps injuries, and splashes is only part of the process. Knowing the risk of injury in various settings and situations will help workers remember to be careful and pay attention to what they are doing, but it’s also critical that safety devices be engineered so that they are easy to use.

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Pat Hlavka

Pat Hlavka is a Safety Coordinator in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. She received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an M.S. degree in Safety from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers. Pat worked as a safety professional in the industrial setting (IBM and Benchmark Electronics) for over 15 years. Since joining the Mayo Clinic in 2008, her responsibilities have focused on laboratory safety including the safety audit program, developing and maintaining documentation, training, communications, awareness, incident investigation, laboratory safety committees, and emergency management.