University of Iowa

SAFETYmatters - Bee Safe - Practice Sharps Safety

Injuries from contaminated sharps can result in an exposure to hazardous material. Personnel who’s work requires them to perform procedures with hazardous materials and sharps must perform such procedures with the greatest possible care. To minimize the risk of exposure, practice sharps safety by following the guidelines listed below.

Selection of Sharp Devices

  1. Select sharp devices with self-sheathing mechanisms, if possible.
  2. Scalpels with a handle are preferable to razor blades.
  3. The device should be easy to use, practical, and require little or no training to be effective.

Safe Handling of Sharp Devices

  1. Disposable sharps (e.g., razor blades, needles, scalpels) should be ONE-TIME use only and disposed immediately into a puncture-resistant sharps container.
  2. NEVER set down used needles, razor blades, etc. -always dispose immediately into a sharps container. If necessary, use a forceps or appropriate device to pick up used sharps.
  3. Only UNUSED sharps devices (i.e. razor blades) should be used when removing specimens from tissue holders (i.e. chucks).
  4. Needles or other sharps should NEVER be recapped, bent, removed, or manipulated with your hand.
  5. NEVER recap a needle with both hands.
  6. If there is no feasible alternative to recapping a needle, use a mechanical device or the following one-handed scoop method.
    1. Place the cap on a flat surface with something firm to “push” the needle against.
    2. Holding the syringe in one hand, slip the needle into the cap without using the other hand.
    3. Push the capped needle against a firm object to secure the cap firmly onto the needle.
  7. Do not shear or break contaminated sharps.

Sharps Disposal

  1. Always dispose of needles and syringes as a whole unit into a puncture-resistant sharps container.
  2. Do not overfill the sharps container.
  3. Close and lock/seal sharps container when full.