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0509 EL: Be safe when handling needles and syringes PDF Print E-mail
El Lechero Dairy Basics - Herd Health
Written by Barbara Mulhern   
Monday, 31 August 2009 17:00

Injecting livestock with medications may be a regular part of your job.

Click to read in SpanishBut failing to take certain safety precautions when handling needles and syringes can seriously harm you or, in some cases, even result in death.

Here are some possible injuries to avoid:
• Accidental injection. This could result if you slip, trip or fall and are carrying an uncapped or loaded syringe in your hands or your pockets. Depending on the type of medication, accidental self-injection could result in a bacterial infection, other injury or death.

• Injury from livestock. When livestock are not properly restrained, they may make an unexpected sudden movement. The force of the attack could also cause self-injection by a loaded syringe being carried in your hands or pocket.

• Injury from needlesticks. Needlesticks are very sharp and can result in skin cuts or puncture wounds to you or a co-worker, especially if you try to bend or break them or fail to properly dispose of them.

Here are some important safety tips:
• Carefully read the product label and understand the material safety data sheet (MSDS). It is important to note any warning labels about the product, precautions you need to take and what to do if you are accidentally injected. The product label may tell you that the medication is “fatal to humans.”

One such antibiotic commonly used to treat bovine respiratory disease is Micotil 300. The dangers of this medication to humans began surfacing in 1993 when a Nebraska farmer carrying a loaded syringe was unexpectedly charged by a horned heifer ready to calve. The farmer was knocked to the ground and accidentally injected in the groin. He died at a local hospital within an hour after doctors told him that there was no way to successfully treat him.

• Ensure that you understand both the product label and the MSDS. Ask your supervisor or a veterinarian to verbally explain it to you.

• Properly restrain livestock in a chute before injecting medications. Be on the lookout for unrestrained animals nearby. And make sure you have identified an escape route.

• Never carry uncapped or loaded syringes in your hands or pockets. Also, don’t leave needles or syringes on the seat of your truck.

• Load the syringe in your work area. Then place it in a puncture-proof carrying case even if you will only be walking a short distance to the animal. Also, keep needles covered until use.

• Do not use automatic-powered syringes when injecting medications that are toxic to humans.

• Properly dispose of used needles and syringes. These should go in a puncture-proof disposal container.

• Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling medications.

What to do if you are injured:
Immediately wash needlestick puncture wounds and cuts with soap and water. Tell a co-worker or your supervisor, and call your local poison center. If you know that the medication is toxic to humans, immediately call 911 and seek emergency medical assistance. It’s a good idea to seek medical treatment any time you are accidentally injected with a medication.

If you are splashed with the medication, flush your nose, mouth or skin with water. If the medication gets into your eyes, use the nearest eyewash station or wash your eyes with clean water or saline. Again, seek prompt medical attention and report the incident to your supervisor.  EL

Barbara Mulhern is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer who specializes in safety and health issues.

 

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