Severnside Housing is one of Shropshire's largest social landlords, and currently owns and maintains more than 5,300 homes in Shrewsbury and the surrounding areas. Established in 2001, with the stock transfer of homes from Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council, Severnside provides affordable housing. It has 240 employees, with over half of the staff directly employed in repairs and maintenance. Severnside believe people are among their most important assets, and place high importance on their health and wellbeing.
NSL Care Services had already delivered emergency first aid training to a quarter of the workforce in 2010.
Feedback from the first aid courses had been exceptionally positive and the Health and Safety manager for Severnside contacted NSL Care Services for advice on other areas in which we could help.
Severnside are committed to ensuring they take all practical steps to ensure that their workforce are safe whilst carrying out their day to day job. It soon became apparent to both parties that NSL Care Services could meet their needs on several areas of concern including conflict resolution, infection prevention and the management and sharps.
Needle stick injuries are a major cause of concern for any employer who may deploy staff into areas where there are potential drug use problems. At Severnside, the repairs and maintenance team have a hands-on practical role, clearing properties once tenants have left.
Tenants may leave discarded needles, as millions of needles are handed out to drug users every year, but only a fraction are returned to needle exchanges. Shock newspaper reports highlighted a case where over 3,000 discarded needles were found at one address, highlighting how serious a problem this can be for employers who come into contact with this group.
An understanding of blood borne viral infections associated with injecting drugs and how to deal with discarded syringes and needles would be needed. Furthermore any solution would need to explore with employees the health and safety procedures when responding to needle stick injuries, and build confidence in the safe handling and disposal of discarded syringes using ‘sharps' boxes and appropriate health and safety equipment.
NSL Care Services solution involved an initial assessment of all the risks being highlighted and then working with Severnside to prioritise any training, highlighting the number ofemployees that needed to be trained.
Subsequent meetings identified the relevant employees who would need to be trained as a priority.
A bespoke programme was created specifically for employees higfhlighting how to spot the dangers with regard to dealing with sharps, be they the repairs and maintenance team, the house tenancy managers or the office based staff.
NSL Care Services programme aimed to develop participants knowledge and understanding of the issues surrounding blood borne viruses and included the associated risks presented when disposing of discarded sharps. The programme also included safety procedures within the working environment, drug needles, and other drug related hazards.
The programme was designed to be participative and non-threatening, minimising and explaining jargon and terminology. This was backed-up with a very helpful workbook that doubled up as the course handout, enforcing key areas and acting as an aide memoire for employees.
Since introduction there has been no sharps accidents reported at Severnside, and nearly half of Severnside's employees are now scheduled to undertake training.
NSL Care Services were additionally consulted and contributed to the formulation of an addition to health and safety procedures. This introduced a policy to offer all staff the opportunity to receive the hepatitis B inoculation, enlist a specialist contractor to remove bio hazardous waste, and for all housing managers to carry secure boxes for emergency disposal of contaminated sharps.
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