Pubdate: Fri, 26 Nov 2004
Source: Parksville Qualicum Beach News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Parksville Qualicum Beach News
Author: Mike McDonald


I read with great interest your story "Take these steps if you find a
needle," (The News, Tuesday, Nov. 16) outlining how readers should
handle a used needle if the find one. While it is vital people are
aware of proper procedure, eliminating the grave threat a used needle
poses is the only solution to protecting our communities.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is leading a national
campaign to pressure provincial governments for the mandatory use of
engineering controls with needles and medical sharps devices which
will virtually eliminate the risk of spreading deadly diseases both,
in the workplace and in our communities.

Anyone who suffers a needle-stick injury must endure six months to a
year of psychological misery while they undergo numerous tests to
determine whether they will test positive for up to 33 blood-borne
diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

But the nightmare doesn't end there.

During this time, workers injured in this way must also live in fear
of accidentally infecting their spouse, children or friends.

Our members throughout B.C. who work in waste management have even
been stuck with used needles that find their way into the waste
stream.Safety-engineered medical devices (SEDs) have mechanisms built
in that protect the worker and anyone else who may come across a
needle once it has been used. So how do SEDs differ from conventional
needles? One example is the spring-loaded safety needle, which has a
mechanism that will retract the sharp end into the barrel of the
needle once the plunger has been depressed, much like a retractable
ballpoint pen.

SEIU's national campaign's goal is to eliminate the terrible risks
conventional needles pose to Canadian workers and communities. Just
last month, the Saskatchewan government became the first province in
the country to commit to making the transition to SEDs.

Our campaign had the support of dozens of unions in that province,
from fire-fighters to transit workers to outside workers in cities and
towns. The reason: this problem affects all of us.For more
information, please visit our web site at We
must stop these injuries before they take more lives.

Mike McDonald, President SEIU Local 244

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