EU Sharps Directive and Regulations

EU Sharps Directive

In March 2010, the EU Employment and Social Affairs Ministers adopted a Directive to prevent injuries and blood borne infections to hospital and healthcare workers from sharp objects, such as needle sticks.

Council Directive 2010/32/EU of 10th May 2010 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union, No. L134 of 1 June 2010, pages 66 to 72. The Directive provides a legislative framework for the agreement on the prevention of sharps injuries in hospitals and the healthcare sector (signed in July 2009) by the Social Partners - the European Hospital and Healthcare Employers' Association (HOSPEEM) and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU).

View the Directive from the Official Journal of the European Union at the Eur-lex website.

Sharps Regulations 2014

The European Union (Prevention of Sharps Injuries in the Healthcare Sector) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 135 of 2014) transpose into Irish law Council Directive 2010/32/EU.

The Regulations relate to the risks posed by sharps to those working in healthcare. They implement specific control measures to protect employees at risk, and require an appropriate response in the event of an incident occurring.

The Regulations build on the more general duties under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agents) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 572 of 2013) which apply across all industry sectors.

The Regulations define sharps as ‘objects or instruments necessary for the exercise of specific healthcare activities, which are able to cut, prick or cause injury or infection’. This includes equipment such as needles, blades (such as scalpels) and other sharp medical instruments.The Regulations apply to all employers and employees in the healthcare sector.

The HSA has produced a guide to provide practical information on the implementation of the Regulations.

Further Information Sources

The European Biosafety Network was established following the adoption of the new EU Directive on Sharps Injuries to improve the safety of patients and healthcare and non healthcare workers. The Network has published guidance on the implementation of the Directive including a practical toolkit for implementation.