Incident: An employee was collecting blood from an individual for research purposes and was struck by the needle that was still attached to the tube.
A sharps injury is penetrating stab wound from a needle, scalpel, or another sharp object that may result in exposure to blood or body fluids. More than 20 bloodborne pathogens have been reportedly transmitted from these types of injuries. Some may lead to severe and fatal infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
If you experienced a sharps injury during your work, immediately follow these steps:
- Wash wound with soap and water
- Flush out mouth, nose, or skin with water
- Irrigate eyes with water, saline, or sterile irrigants
- Report the incident to your supervisor
- Immediately seek medical treatment at the nearest ER or treatment facility.
What can employers and employees do to prevent injury in the workplace?
- Implement the use of engineering controls to reduce needlestick injuries.
- Avoid the use of needles when there are other safe alternatives
- Implement use of devices with safety features.
- Set priorities and strategies for needlestick injury prevention by examining local and national information about risk factors.
- Ensure proper training of employees on the safe use and disposal of needles.
- Modify work practices that have an increased risk of a needlestick injury.
- Promote safety awareness in the work environment.
- Establish procedures for and encourage the reporting of all needlestick and other sharps-related injuries.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of prevention efforts and provide feedback on performance.
- Avoid recapping needles.
- Before beginning any procedure using needles, plan for safe handling and proper disposal.
- Help your employer select and evaluate devices with safety features.
- Use devices with safety features.
- Report all needlestick and other sharps-related injuries.
- Dispose of used needles in appropriate sharps disposal containers.
- Inform your employer of hazards from needles that you observe at work.
- Participate in bloodborne pathogen training and follow recommended infection prevention practices, including hepatitis B vaccination.
Consider this example as you complete today’s work activities and think about the hazards associated with your particular work, and the steps that can be taken to increase safety on your job.