All personnel must take precautions to prevent injuries when using sharp instruments
or devices during and after procedures, when cleaning used instruments, and during
disposal of used needles and sharps.
safe needle disposal
Protect housekeeping staff, yourself, and the entire WCU community by disposing of
needles safely! Safe needle disposal is easy and protects us all from accidental
needle sticks and the risk of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis. Follow
the DO's and DON'Ts for the safe disposal of needles and other sharps used at home,
at work, or while traveling. A Sharps Safety Flyer is available to print and post in an area to raise awareness for safer needle disposal.
- All personnel handling sharps when working with human blood or other potentially infectious
material (OPIM) must review the Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Program and complete the required training.
- Follow Sharps Safety Universal Precautions when working with potentially infectious material.
- Needles, scalpels, lancets, glass slides, cover slips, and glass pipettes all pose
potential sharps hazards in laboratories; therefore, plasticware should be substituted
- All personnel must be trained on the availability and use of approved safety devices
where appropriate for their work responsibilities. Where feasible, sharps with engineered
sharps injury protection, such as self-sheathing needles, retractable needles, or
needleless systems must be used. A detailed description of safer sharps handling
and the types of safety devices currently available, including animations on how they
work, can be found on the OSHA website for Safer Needle Devices.
- Needles must not be recapped, purposely bent or broken, removed from disposable syringes,
or otherwise manipulated by hand. Exceptions, such as when needles must be recapped
for sterility (i.e. re-use of needle on the same patient) must be approved by the
- Any approved recapping procedure must be done either by using a recapping device or
a one-handed scoop method for recapping. The one-handed scoop technique uses the
needle itself to pick up the cap, and then the cap is pushed against a hard surface
to ensure a tight fit onto the device. Immediately after use, these sharps must be
placed into appropriate containers.
- Use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment. The supervisor should assess the exposure potential for procedures perfomed and
identify the necessary PPE for personnel.
- Broken glassware and other sharps should not be handled directly, and must be cleaned
up using mechanical devices such as a dustpan, cardboard, or tongs.
- After use, disposable syringes and needles, scalpel blades, scissors, slides, any
activated or inactivated safety devices, and other sharp items must immediately, or
as soon as feasible, be placed in an approved sharps container.
- The sharps container must be:
- Puncture resistant
- Leakproof on sides and bottom
- Labeled with biohazard symbol or color coded red for infectious sharps waste
- Labeled as "non-infectious" or "non-contaminated" sharps waste when applicable
- Easily accessible and located as close as is feasible to the immediate area where
sharps are used
- Maintained upright with a clear line of sight to the disposal opening
- Be replaced when they become 3/4 full or are at the indicated fill-line
- Placed in a secondary container if leakage is possible
- Closed immediately and securely sealed with tape prior to removal to prevent spillage
or protrusion of contents during handling, storage, or transport.
Types of Sharps Waste
- Regulated medical waste sharps are collected for incineration disposal by a third
- Autoclaved biological sharps are collected by Safety and Risk Management for disposal.
- Broken glass disposal boxes should be used for non-contaminated glass disposal and
sealed properly prior to disposal in the regular trash.
- Contaminated glass should be collected in a sharps container and labeled for hazard
- Pipettes are considered a sharps hazard and should be collected in puncture-resistant
containers marked as "non-infectious sharps" or "biohazardous sharps" depending on
usage and sealed properly prior to disposal.
Contact Safety and Risk Management for questions concerning sharps disposal or to
request a container pickup.
An injury should immediately be washed thoroughly with soap and water and reported
to the supervisor. Information regarding sharps injuries must be forwarded to the
Safety and Risk Management Office within 24 hours of the incident. The following
information should be supplied when reporting an incident:
- Type, brand, and purpose of device involved in the incident (if known)
- Location where the incident occurred
- Occupation of the injured employee
- An explanation of how the injury occurred
An incident involving percutaneous injury (i.e. needle stick, scalpel) and exposure
to blood, other body fluids, or high titers of cell-associated or free virus must
be documented in the Sharps Injury Log maintained by the Safety and Risk Management Office. The Safety Office will review the exposure and other blood or body fluid exposure
protocols will be instituted, as indicated.
SHARPS safety survey
Personnel who are potentially exposed to injuries from contaminated sharps are encouraged
to submit a Sharps Safety Survey. The survey is anonymous and takes less than 5 minutes to complete.
Your responses will help to determine the effectiveness of engineering and work practice
controls being used at WCU and ensure that personnel are aware of safer sharps devices
engineered to reduce injury and exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Information on
safer sharps devices is available on the OSHA website.
Sharps safety training
All personnel handling sharps must be trained in safe work practices specific to the
potential hazards. Hands-on training provided directly by the supervisor, or other
assigned individual, must be documented using a training checklist or standard operating
procedure (SOP). Training records should be available upon request during a safety
Employees will be assigned sharps safety training through their Vivid learning online
A Sharps Safety Training presentation is provided as a resource for sharps safety training in healthcare.