EU regulations to control the risks posed by needlesticks and other 'sharps' in healthcare, have taken effect from this month.
The regulations mean that employers in the healthcare sector will be required to have arrangements for the safe use and disposal of needles, including using 'safer sharps' where practicable, restricting the practice of recapping of needles and placing sharps bins close to the point of use.
Employers would also have to provide necessary information and training to workers that use sharps and investigate and take action in response to sharps injuries that happen in the workplace.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: 'Nurses and healthcare assistants should not have to go to work fearing that they could be exposed to infections. We hope employers are now ready to implement the regulations and to protect staff.'