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Safe Sharps Handling

Two of the most common causes of needle sticks are re-capping needles and improper disposal of needles. All needle sticks, and other sharps injuries, carry the risk of secondary infections in addition to exposure to the needle's content and/or contam

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Two of the most common causes of needle sticks are re-capping needles and improper disposal of needles. All needle sticks, and other sharps injuries, carry the risk of secondary infections in addition to exposure to the needle's content and/or contamination on the outside of the needle or other sharp instrument.

Needle/syringe usage may also present a risk of exposure to infectious agents or other hazardous materials via sprays and aerosols - particularly from non needle-locking syringes.

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Sharps can include hypodermic needles, syringes (with or without the attached needle), pasteur pipettes, scalpel blades, blood vials, needles with attached tubing, culture dishes, suture needles, slides, cover slips and other broken or unbroken glass that have been in contact with infectious agents or have been used in animal or human patient care or treatment, at medical research or industrial laboratories, etc.

Sharps Injury Prevention

To prevent sharps injuries:

  • Needles must not be bent, sheared, broken, recapped, removed from disposable syringes, or otherwise manipulated before disposal.
     
  • Do not pick up broken glass with hands, use mechanical means such as a brush and dustpan, tongs, or forceps.
     
  • Transport needles or syringes in a sealed container.
     
  • Perform an annual review your lab's need to use sharps. Is it possible to modify a procedure so sharps are not needed?
     
  • Use syringes which re-sheathe the needle, needleless systems, and other sharps safety devices whenever possible.
     
  • Always request safety engineered sharps from vendors.
     
  • Annually review the availability of products engineered to reduce sharps exposure in order to determine if there is an acceptable sharp replacement for specific procedures.

Sharps Disposal

  • Do not re-cap needles.
     
  • Promptly dispose of all sharps in sharps container.
     
  • Use leak-proof, puncture-resistant sharps containers properly labeled by the supplier.
     
  • Place sharps containers within easy reach of work stations where sharps are generated.
     
  • Never fill containers more than 3/4 full.
     
  • Use a size and shape container that will allow the sharp to freely and completely enter the container.
     
  • Close and seal the top of containers.

Click Here to view an example of how a university lab manages different types of sharps, including Chemical Contaminated Sharps, Non-infectious Sharps, Radiation-Contaminated Sharps, and Radiation/Biohazard-Contaminated Sharps.