How to prevent needlestick and sharps injuries

By: Mike Huss, Loss Control Consultant

Needlestick and other sharps injuries are a serious hazard in any healthcare setting. Contact with contaminated needles, scalpels, broken glass, and other sharps may expose healthcare workers to blood that contains pathogens which pose a grave, potentially lethal risk.

Healthcare workers can be at risk for needlestick or sharps injuries when they:

  • Handle needles that must be taken apart or manipulated after use
  • Dispose of needles attached to tubing
  • Manipulate the needle in the client
  • Recap a needle
  • Use needles or glass equipment to transfer body fluid between containers
  • Fail to dispose of used needles in puncture-resistant sharps containers
  • Lack proper workstations for procedures using sharps
  • Work quickly
  • Bump into a needle, a sharp, or another worker while either person is holding a sharp

Employers should:

  • Establish a bloodborne pathogen control program that meets all of the requirements of the OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard
  • Eliminate the use of needle devices whenever safe and effective alternatives are available
  • Provide needle devices with safety features
  • Provide sharps containers for workers to bring into clients’ homes
  • Investigate all sharps-related injuries
  • Provide post-exposure medical evaluations

Source: Dept. of Health and Human Services CDC and Prevention - NIOSH

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.