Preventing needlestick injuries
Predominantly a health care-related risk, needlestick and sharps injuries are serious. NIOSH states that these types of injuries occur when a worker comes in contact with a contaminated needle, scalpel or other sharps.
Common ways in which workers sustain needlestick and sharps injuries include recapping needles, handling needles that need to be taken apart after use, working too quickly, and bumping into a needle or sharp that another worker is holding.
NIOSH recommends that to help prevent needlestick and sharps injuries, employers do the following:
- Create a bloodborne pathogens control program covering the requirements of OSHA’s standard on bloodborne pathogens.
- Purchase needle device alternatives whenever possible.
- Ensure needle devices used by employees at your workplace have safety features.
- Investigate any injuries related to sharps and needles, and provide post-exposure medical evaluations.
Tips for employees include:
- Always adhere to standard precautions, infection prevention and general hygiene practices.
- Plan ahead for the safe handling and disposal of needles and sharps.
- Immediately report any injury to your employer.
If you experience a needlestick or sharps injury:
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Report the incident to your supervisor.
- Seek medical help.