Safe Sharps Disposal: Preventing Needlestick & Sharps Injuries

Needlestick injuries in the workplace are an all too common, yet preventable, hazard. Protect your patients, employees and your business with safe sharps disposal.

The Dangers of Needlestick Injuries

Anyone who handles “sharps” is at risk of a needlestick injury. “Sharps” typically involve needles and syringes but can include scalpels, scissors or any object capable of piercing human skin.

Needlestick injuries can occur whenever people use, disassemble, or dispose of needles (and other sharps). Given that needles are often used for simple and routine procedures, it is easy to dismiss the real danger involved. Yet, sharps can transmit infectious diseases, particularly blood-borne viruses. In severe cases, a needlestick can transmit  HIV (which leads to AIDS), Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

WHO reports in the World Health Report 2002, that of the 35 million health-care workers reported on,

2 million health-care workers are exposed to infectious diseases through needlestick injuries each year.

WHO also reported that 37.6% of Hepatitis B, 39% of Hepatitis C and 4.4% of HIV/AIDS in healthcare workers around the world were caused by needlestick injuries.

When a needle is contaminated with Hepatitis B virus, a needlestick injury in the workplace results in a 6% to 30% chance that an exposed person will become infected (according to the Ontario Hospital Association/Ontario Medical Association 2016). Worse still is that the worker who used the needle is not the only person at risk. If a needle is not disposed of properly and pokes through packaging or garbage, other workers may become exposed to it unexpectedly.

Preventing Injury with Safe Disposal

Safe sharps disposal is one of the best ways to prevent workplace needlstick injuries. The American Hospital Association estimated that $1 billion annually is saved by preventing needlestick injuries among healthcare workers in the US, this includes the costs of lab work, testing, counseling, and follow-up.

GIC guidelines for safe sharps disposal:

1) Obtain the appropriate containers, boxes, and liners from GIC.

  • GIC offers the highest quality products, manufactured according to the highest global compliance standards.
  • Containers should be readily available and conveniently placed wherever sharps are to be used.

2) Discard sharps waste into our premier quality containers.

  • With GIC, you can dispose of your sharps in containers which are puncture resistant and safe. Your staff can benefit from needle removing mechanisms, a lid which can be reopened until the container is full and permanently sealed once the container reaches capacity.
  • It is safest to replace containers when they are three-quarters full.

3) Once your container or containers are at capacity, place them in the disposal box (with liner) and call GIC for a pickup.  With one call, your work is done. GIC will be there as often as you need, taking the waste off your hands and off your mind.

Workplace Duties of Employers

Most states/provinces/jurisdictions have their own occupational health and safety legislation. Each of Canada’s provinces and territories has one. “WHMIS” is « right-to-know » legislation for hazardous products and applies in all Canadian workplaces which are covered by occupational health and safety legislation and where WHMIS regulated hazardous products are used.

WHMIS legislation imposes the following duties on employers:

    • educate and train workers on the hazards and safe use of hazardous products in the workplace;
    • ensure that hazardous products are properly labeled;
    • prepare workplace labels and SDSs (safety data sheet); and,
    • ensure appropriate control measures are in place to protect the health and safety of workers.

Workplace Duties of Employees

WHMIS legislation imposes the following duties on employees:

    • participate in WHMIS and chemical safety training programs;
    • take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their co-workers; and,
    • participate in identifying and controlling hazards.

Reduce the needlestick risk – take precautions and dispose of your sharps safely!