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Preventing sharps and needlestick injuries

Sharps and needlestick injuries are a major concern for healthcare workers due to the risk of bloodborne pathogen
infections. The pathogens that pose the most severe health risks are Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Sharps are any contaminated objects that can penetrate the skin including, but not limited to, needles, scalpels, broken glass, broken capillary tubes, and the ends of dental wires. Such items must be handled safely and disposed of properly and immediately after use.

Activities with the greatest risk for potential Sharps and needlestick Injuries:

  • Administering injections or drawing blood
  • Recapping needles
  • Suturing and wound sealing materials
  • Disposing of sutures and needles
  • Handling trash and dirty linens
  • Picking up broken glass or needles with your hands
  • Bumping into a co-worker while either person is handling needles or sharps

Methods to avoid sharps and needlestick injuries:

•  Before each use, plan for safe handling and disposal of needles
•  Avoid using needles whenever safer and more effective alternatives are available
• Avoid recapping or bending needles
• Most needlestick injuries result from unsafe needle devices. Help your employer select and evaluate devices with safety features. Syringes with self-sheathing needles have proven to reduce the risks of needlestick injuries significantly
• Never pick up sharps with your hands, even when wearing gloves; use mechanical devices such as tongs, forceps, or a brush and dustpan to pick up dropped needles, sharp medical instruments, or broken glass


This article is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for information purposes only. The information in this article shall not be construed or interpreted as providing legal or any other advice. The information material does not amend the provisions of any insurance policy issued by CompSource Mutual. It is not a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy provisions, and any applicable law.

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