Manitoba moves to protect health-care workers

Legislation aims to reduce number of injuries from needles

Manitoba is proposing a number of changes to its Workplace Safety and Health Act which it says will improve protection for health-care workers.

“Needle-stick injuries pose a significant risk to health-care workers from blood-borne diseases,” said Manitoba’s Labour and Immigration Minister Nancy Allan. “These proposals will ensure employers in the health-care sector implement procedures and require the use of safety-engineered needles to reduce the potential for injuries to their workers.”

Under the proposed amendments, employers would be required to ensure that:

•workers use safety-designed needles such as retractable or safety-shielded devices to prevent injuries;

•safe-work procedures and practices in the use of safety-engineered needles are implemented;

•procedures are established to address worker injuries from needle sticks;

•needle-stick injuries are investigated and reported; and

•if the use of safety-engineered needles is not reasonably practical, employers implement safe-work procedures and practices to deal with the risk.

There are about 3,000 needle-stick injuries in Manitoba every year. The majority take place in workplaces in the health-care sector where the traditional hollow-bore needles are used to withdraw fluid samples or inject medications.

A number of blood-borne diseases that may be transferred during these incidents includes HIV and hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

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