7 ways to reduce the risk of a sharps injury

A sharp, or needlestick injury can cause a huge amount of distress to the injured party, as this kind of penetration to the skin can result in the spread of disease or infections such as HIV, hepatitis and other serious bloodborne pathogens.

A needlestick injury can be avoided by following some simple rules and recognising that appropriate waste segregation is vital to the safety of staff, patients and any persons in contact with a healthcare or social service setting where sharps usage is required.

Did you know, according to Public Health England’s Eye of the Needle Report 2014, the annual number of reported occupational exposures to a bloodborne virus increased from 373 in 2004 to 496 in 2013? Furthermore, 71% of exposures involved a percutaneous needlestick injury, and two-thirds (65%) of those exposures occurred in wards, theatres and A&E.

Here, sharps management specialist and SRCL’s Bio Systems Business Manager, Amie Marsh shares her top seven tips for reducing the risk of receiving a sharps injury.

1. Ensure your sharps container is assembled correctly.
The colour of the lid should match the colour of the base label. The lid should be securely attached as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

2. Sharps containers should be located at the point of patient care.
This is to ensure staff can dispose of the sharp safely and immediately after use, into the sharps container. Staff should not carry around any used sharps away from the point of patient care.

3. Temporary closure activated.
When not in use, the temporary closure on the disposable sharps unit should be selected to ensure the container is secure whilst in situ.

4. Sharps waste only!
Only sharps waste should be disposed of in the sharps containers. For non-sharps waste please select the appropriate bagged waste stream.

5. Permanently lock when full.
Once contents are at the fill line (usually ¾ full) the container must be permanently locked and disposed of. DO NOT overfill a sharps container, this can lead to an increased risk of sharps injury and the spread of infection.

6. Use the handle!
When carrying a sharps container, always use the handle.

7. Dispose of containers safely.
Sharps should be disposed of safely into a sharps container with the sharp-end disposed of first and always facing away from you.

To find out how we can help you reduce sharps related injuries in your facility, contact a member of our specialist team today!