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Beware the syringe… police have to be alert to the risk of needlestick injuries while carrying out their duties.

The sharp end of police work

Police work can be messy, dirty and dangerous, including coming into contact with sharp objects such as hypodermic needles.

 

Responding to member concerns about the risk of needlestick injuries to staff, the Police Association has decided to look into the benefits or otherwise of providing needlestick-resistant gloves to officers.

According to Police records, there were five needlestick injuries to Police staff nationwide in the year to February 2019.

Police doesn’t supply specific needlestick-proof safety gloves to staff on the basis that there are no 100 per cent needlestick-proof gloves available, only products with varying degrees of needlestick-resistance.

Instead, its preference is to promote safe searching techniques and encourage a high level of alertness, which, Police says, could be compromised by a false sense of security if such gloves were routinely used.

The North Shore Committee told the association’s annual conference this year that it knew of several members who had resorted to buying their own protective gloves to provide extra peace of mind in potentially high-risk search situations.

The committee wants Police to reconsider its policy on the gloves for Level 1 constables, authorised officers (who search people in custody units) and public counter support officers (who handle found property).

The committee said that even if a needle had never been used, there was still a chance of it causing injury by piercing the skin. If a needle had been used, there was the added risk of blood-borne diseases and bacterial infections.

Conference delegates voted in favour of the association undertaking further research into needlestick-resistant gloves and to provide a report and recommendations to the board of directors for their consideration.

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