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Increase in needle related compensation claims reported by Ontario board.

TORONTO -- Ontario's Workplace and Safety Insurance Board, the largest in Canada, recorded a "huge" increase in needle related compensation claims since the early 1990's, according to information published by the National Post.

In 2001 the WSIB recorded more than 2,000 claims by workers who have been pricked with potentially hazardous hypodermic needles as opposed to less than 30 similar WSIB claims in the early 1990's. For the most part, nurses and other healthcare workers are injured in so-called needlestick claims, but other workers, such as parks and recreation workers are also exposed to needlestick injuries when cleaning parks and other recreational grounds.

Workers who are injured through needle pricks may be exposed to infectious diseases, such as Hepatitis C and HIV, and often undergo a draining course of prophylactic medication to stop potential illness.

Kathleen Connors, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses' Unions, blames the increase in needlestick claims on the shortage of nurses. "I think it's a hidden epidemic because I think there are many unreported injuries. Workloads are extremely heavy, so you take shortcuts and that leads to injury."

However, a WSIB spokesperson believes the increase in the number of claims has more to do with increased awareness about new and emerging infectious disease than an actual spike in the number of incidents.
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Title Annotation:Health
Publication:Community Action
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Aug 18, 2003
Words:217
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