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How to keep staff safe in the operating room

August 12, 2014

Employers who operate within the healthcare sector know that it is paramount to protect workers from the various hazards they come into everyday contact with. This can include introducing a number of measures to try and reduce the risk they are exposed to and ensure they are in the lowest possible amount of danger when conducting their work.

For many employers, especially off the back of the recent EU legislation, needlestick injury prevention has become a high priority, as this can have a long-term, detrimental impact on workers and the organisation itself. Preventative action can include removing unnecessary sharps from the workplace, but for professionals working in the operating room, needlesticks and other medical sharps are a vital part of their role.

As medical instruments cannot be removed from the workplace, employers must rely on other preventative measures to reduce the risk that healthcare workers are exposed to and ensure they, as well as the patients they treat, remain safe.

Safety devices
Safety devices are the easiest and one of the cheapest ways you can reduce the risk of needlestick injuries for people working in the operating room. There are a variety of instruments available that can replace traditional devices and make the chance of a person suffering a percutaneous injury less probable. The type or amount of safety devices needed will highly depend on the task undertaken but in the operating room a great number of instruments have a safer alternative. 

By introducing safety devices, employers are also ensuring they comply with EU and American legislation, as well as reducing the chance of loss of productivity after a needlestick injury.

Keeping items in the correct place
As well as introducing safety devices, employers can reduce the risk of any hazard by making sure each item is in its designated place. This helps healthcare workers in the operating room follow the recommended steps in a procedure and reduces the chance of accidental injuries happening. For example, when needlesticks or other medical sharps are being used, it's important to ensure that appropriate bins are near to the site where it will be used. This makes safe disposal convenient for each member of staff.

Appropriate training 
Delivering comprehensive training to each and every member of staff working within the operating room will help reduce the risk of any person suffering a percutaneous injury. Training can encompass a number of safe practices and can help healthcare workers remember the measures they can take to reduce their own risk and encourages them to take responsibility for their own actions. 

Training should be given to each new employee when they first join the organisation, and this should be followed up where appropriate at regular intervals. However, it should also be taken into consideration that all members of staff need to be trained when new legislation is introduced, such as the EU needlestick legislation in 2013.

Best practice 
One of the best ways to ensure healthcare workers are not injured from any hazard in the workplace is to encourage all members of staff to carry out procedures as dictated in best practice. The recommended process or best practice should be given to employees during training and should be made available through leaflets or online resources. By demonstrating best practice constantly, newer members of staff will know the appropriate way to conduct themselves when in the operating room.

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