23 Safe Work Practices for Preventing Sharps Injuries

To promote safe work practices, healthcare personnel need to have an awareness of the risk of injury throughout the time a sharp is exposed and use a combination of strategies to protect themselves and their co-workers throughout the handling of the device.


The following is a suggested list of 23 practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Workbook for Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating a Sharps Injury Prevention Program" that reflect this concept and can be adapted as necessary to any healthcare environment.


Before the beginning of a procedure that involves the use of a needle or other sharp device

1. Ensure that equipment necessary for performing a procedure is available within arms reach.


2. Assess the work environment for adequate lighting and space to perform the procedure.


3. If multiple sharps will be used during a procedure, organize the work area (e.g. procedure tray) so that the sharp is always pointed away from the operator.


4. Identify the location of the sharps disposal container; if moveable, place it as close to the point-of-use as appropriate for immediate disposal of the sharp. If the sharp is reusable, determine in advance where it will be placed for safe handling after use.


5. Assess the potential for the patient to be uncooperative, combative, or confused. Obtain assistance from other staff or a family member to assist in calming or restraining the patient as necessary.


6. Inform the patient of what the procedure involves and explain the importance of avoiding any sudden movement that might dislodge the sharp, for successful completion of the procedure as well as prevention of injury to healthcare personnel.


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During a procedure that involves the use of needles or other sharp devices

7. Maintain visual contact with the procedure site and location of the sharp device.


8. When handling an exposed sharp, be aware of other staff in the immediate environment and take steps to control the location of the sharp to avoid injury to oneself and other staff.


9. Do not hand-pass exposed sharps from one person to another; use a predetermined neutral zone or tray for placing and retrieving used sharps. Verbally announce when sharps are being placed in a neutral zone.


10. If the procedure necessitates reusing a needle multiple times on the same patient (e.g., giving local anesthesia), recap the needle between steps using a one-handed technique or a fixed device that enables one-handed recapping.


11. If using an engineered sharps injury prevention device, activate the safety feature as the procedure is being completed, observing for audio or visual cues that the feature is locked in place.


During clean-up following a procedure

12. Visually inspect procedure trays, or other surfaces (including patient beds) containing waste materials used during a procedure, for the presence of sharps that may have been left inadvertently after the procedure.


13. Transport reusable sharps in a closed container that has been secured to prevent the spillage of contents.


During disposal

14. Visually inspect the sharps container for hazards caused by overfilling.


15. Make sure the sharps container being used is large enough to accommodate the entire device.


16. Avoid bringing the hands close to the opening of a sharps container; never place hands or fingers into a container to facilitate disposal of a device.


17. Keep the hands behind the sharp tip when disposing the device.


18. If disposing of a sharp with attached tubing (e.g., winged steel needle), be aware that the tubing can recoil and lead to injury; maintain control of the tubing as well as the needle when disposing the device.


After disposal

19. Visually inspect sharps containers for evidence of overfilling before removal. If a sharps container is overfilled, obtain a new container and use forceps or tongs to remove protruding devices and place them in the new container.


20. Visually inspect the outside of waste containers for evidence of protruding sharps. If found, notify safety personnel for assistance in removing the hazard.


21. Keep filled sharps containers awaiting final disposal in a secure area.


Improperly disposed sharps

22. If an improperly disposed sharp is encountered in the work environment, handle the device carefully, keeping the hands behind the sharp at all times.


23. Use a mechanical device to pick up the sharp if it cannot be performed safely by hand.


Source: CDC


View our database providing 75-plus reports that link to free, downloadable and adaptable tools for use in surgery centers, hospitals and other provider organizations by clicking here.


Related Articles on Sharps Safety:

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Sharps Injuries Still High Despite Legislation and Improved Technology

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