Safe Use of Needles and other ‘Sharps’

Exposure to unscreened human blood or tissue carries a potential risk of contracting a blood-borne infection such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Although the risk of acquiring infection in this way is low, the universal precautions for people working with human blood or tissue should be scrupulously observed to minimise it. In summary:

  • Avoid using sharps if safe alternative devices are available
  • Needles and sharps should be handled with care, and handling kept to a minimum
  • Users of needles or other sharps are responsible for their disposal
  • Never re-sheath, bend or break needles before disposal
  • Dispose of syringes and needles as a unit
  • Never carry used sharps or re-use equipment
  • Sharps disposal containers must be available at the point of use
  • Discard sharps containers when three-quarters full
  • Never clear areas where sharps may be present without hand protection
  • Wear goggles if there is a risk of splashing