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EU ministers adopt rules to prevent injuries to healthcare workers

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At a meeting of the EU Council of Education, Youth and Culture today, Ministers adopted a directive aimed at achieving the safest possible working environment for healthcare workers through prevention from injuries.

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 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.

EU Member States have three years in which to transpose the new directive into national law.

Council Directive implementing the Framework Agreement on prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector

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