Needlestick injuries are often a reality for nurses and lab personnel who regularly use needles in their day-to-day operations.
Unfortunately, when needles and other sharps are not properly disposed of, these injuries can be incurred by individuals whose roles don’t involve handling of needles and who are otherwise unaware of their presence – including ULAM husbandry personnel and facilities, plant operations, and maintenance staff.
- In the last few months, several individuals have reported injuries from being stuck by a needle while emptying trash bags.
- These separate incidents occurred in animal procedure rooms located in different buildings on campus. Because the procedure rooms were shared by multiple labs, determining the contents and source of the needle(s) was difficult.
- Without knowing the source, the potential that the needle(s) may have been used to administer hazardous drugs or other infectious materials to animals cannot be ruled out.
- The individuals immediately reported the incidents to their supervisors and sought medical treatment.
- Interventions, including medical testing and possible preventative care, are required for individuals who receive needlesticks from unknown sources.
- Follow-up testing may be necessary for several months after the incident to ensure that no diseases have been transmitted.
- Increased time away from work is common as individuals undergo additional follow-up testing.
- The psychological consequences for affected individuals, even when disease transmission does not occur, can be long-lasting and substantial.
What You Can Do
Fortunately, injuries such as these can be prevented by taking a few extra precautions. Follow these safety tips to protect yourself and others when handling, and disposing of, sharps:
|Go slowly and take your time. Rushing can lead to accidents.|
|Use safety features. Newer needle technology, such as retractable needles and needleless systems, can help you avoid needlestick accidents. Learn about and use these devices whenever possible.|
|Don’t recap needles. Reduce the likelihood of sticking yourself by leaving needle caps off after use.|
|Always use a sharps container. Make sure you have a container made specifically for sharp objects located at the site of generation. Used needles must be placed in a sharps container and NEVER thrown away in the trash.|
- Consult the Responding to a Needlestick or Biological Exposure Standard Operating Procedure
for step-by-step instructions on how to handle an incident.
- Remember to report all research-related incidents and near misses
to the Department of Environment, Health & Safety (EHS).
- Contact EHS at (734) 763-4568 with any additional questions or concerns about proper sharps disposal.